A file photo of monk Lobsang Tsultrim. (Photo/Kirti monastery)
DHARAMSHALA, March 16: Exactly a year after monk Phuntsog set himself on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet, another Tibetan has set himself on fire today.
Lobsang Tsultrim, a 20-year-old monk from the besieged Kirti monastery in the Ngaba region of eastern Tibet set his body on fire at around 5 pm local time.
According to the exile base of Kirti monastery in Dharamshala, Lobsang Tsultrim set himself ablaze on the main street in the upper region of Ngaba town.
“Lobsang Tsultrim was enveloped in flames and raising slogans as he started marching up the main road,” the release said. “Upon seeing Chinese security personnel rushing towards him, Lobsang Tsultrim turned back but another security personnel present there struck him and he fell on the ground.”
The fire was extinguished and Lobsang Tsultrim was thrown into a police vehicle.
“Even as Chinese security personnel had pinned him on the floor of the moving vehicle, Lobsang Tsultrim was seen raising his fist in the air and raising slogans,” the release said quoting eyewitnesses.
Born to Yeshi and Tsedron, Lobsang Tsultrim is the eldest of four siblings.
He was enrolled into the monastic order at the age of eight and throughout his schooling years, he was amongst the brightest students in the monastery.
Lobsang Tsultrim has been described by his peers as “well-behaved and friendly.”
Since Phuntsog’s self-immolation protest, 28 Tibetans have torched their bodies in the past one year alone, protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
In anticipation of protests on the one-year anniversary of monk Phuntsog’s self-immolation, Chinese security personnel were on high alert since morning, the release said.
In the past few months, several foreign journalists attempting to enter the Ngaba region including reporters from the BBC and CNN have been detained, thrown out, and threatened of visa revocations.
However, journalists who have been able to slip through the tight security cordon have described the town, which has been at the centre of the fiery protests, as a “conflict zone” under “stifling lockdown.”
An Associated Press journalist reported that soldiers with helmets, rifles, sticks, and shields marching in rows were not only patrolling the streets, but also “policing the minds” of the community.
"The locals are definitely feeling very heavy-hearted, very frustrated, all day. The soldiers are everywhere," the report quoted a teacher as saying. "At every moment, people wonder what will happen to the person next to them, what the soldiers will do to them."
One of the first to gain access to the region, a Guardian reporter, revealed that Chinese paramilitaries were trying to “snuff out Tibetan resistance to Beijing's rule with spiked batons, semi-automatic weapons and fire extinguishers.”
"Essentially you've got a town that's on edge - a town that's divided between the potential immolators and those standing by to extinguish," the Guardian reported.
Many countries have expressed serious concerns over the ongoing crisis inside Tibet and urged China to address the grievances of the Tibetan people.
The Tibetan exile parliament, which is currently in session, held extensive discussions on the spate of self-immolations and mass protests inside Tibet and passed a unanimous resolution urging the Chinese leadership to immediately end its repressive policies in Tibet and allow an international fact-finding delegation to visit Tibetan areas.