By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, March 16: Hundreds of Tibetans, including monks, and sympathisers on Thursday took part in street demonstrations in solidarity with a Tibetan monk protester who burned himself to death in Ngaba (Ch: Aba
) County in Tibet’s Amdo province.
Following a peaceful candle light vigil organized by five major Tibetan organizations based here in Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet’s government in exile in north India, the protesters later gathered at the main Tibetan temple here and shouted slogans calling for justice and freedom in Tibet.
The monk identified as Phuntsok, aged in his early 20s, from the Kirti Monastery in Amdo Ngaba set himself ablaze on Wednesday after staging, what sources describe as a solo protest against Chinese rule over Tibet.
Enraged by the incident, sources say hundreds of Tibetans in the area later held protests against Chinese authorities.
Sources say Phuntsok staged the protest calling for the return of Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans, to commemorate the third anniversary of the March 2008 protest that left many dead in the area following a bloody crackdown by Chinese military.
President of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), one of the organisers of today’s protest, Mr Tsewang Rigzin declared Phuntsok “a Martyr, who had made supreme sacrifice for the cause of Tibet and for the people of Tibet”.
“Phuntsok’s selfless action for Tibet and its people once again sends a fresh reminder that Tibetans will never give up their resistance against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet,” Mr Tsewang Rigzin said, addressing a huge gathering of Tibetans at the courtyard of the main Tibetan temple here.
The five organisations also issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Phuntsok and condemning the ongoing “inhumane treatment of the Tibetan people” by the Chinese Communist government in Tibet.
The organisations also urged Tibetans and Tibet supporters around the world to inform international rights groups and relevant authorities about the incident to prevent violent suppressions by the Chinese government in the area.
China's state news agency has said Phuntsok died after protesters prevented him getting hospital treatment.
Monks from Kirti Monastery, based here in Dharamsala, who claim to have close contacts inside Tibet, however, say the Chinese government, as usual, is deliberately trying to propagate wrong information about the incident.
Tibetans, having sources in Tibet, say Chinese police put out the flames, then beat Phuntsok that led to his subsequent death on Thursday morning.
This is believed to be the second self-immolation by a Kirti Monastery monk.
In February 2009, Tapey, a monk in his mid-twenties from Ngaba’s Kirti Monastery, set himself on fire to protest against a ban
by Chinese government prohibiting the monks of the monastery from observing a major Tibetan new year prayer festival.
Reports at the time confirmed that Tapey was shot at by Chinese police after he set himself alight. He, however, survived and was later taken to police custody. But his whereabouts remain unknown as no one has seen or heard about him since then.