Dorjee Tseten in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy/Sonam Gyatso)
DHARAMSHALA, May 28: Various sources in exile as well the Chinese official news agencies are now confirming earlier reports of a twin self-immolation protest in Tibet’s capital Lhasa yesterday.
According to reports received by Phayul, a 19-year-old Tibetan identified as Dorjee Tseten, along with his friend, an unidentified 25-year old male set themselves on fire in front of the historic Jokhang Temple in an apparent protest against the Chinese government.
Dorjee Tseten is feared dead while there is no information on the well being and whereabouts of the other Tibetan.
Speaking to Phayul, Sonam Gyatso, a monk at the Drepung Gomang Monastery in south India said that the two Tibetans had booked a room near the Jokhang Temple, one of the most holy shrines in Tibet, preparing for their protest.
“Dorjee Tseten and his friend stepped out of their rented room at around 2.15 pm (local time) and set themselves on fire,” Gyatso said. “Enveloped in towering flames, one of them ran to the flagpole in front of the Jokhang Temple and fell down while the other took around ten steps and fell on the ground.”
According to the same source, Dorjee Tseten is a native of Bora, Labrang Tashi Khyil in Amdo, eastern Tibet while the other youth is from Ngaba, the region which has been at the centre of the ongoing self-immolation protests in Tibet.
Gyatso, citing sources in Bora, said that Dorjee Tseten is the son of Bendey Khar and Dolkar Kyi and has two elder brothers.
“Dorjee Tseten did his primary schooling in Bora and had gone to Lhasa to work there as a chef in a restaurant,” Gyatso said. “People in his native village identify him as gentle natured.”
The same source added that the other self-immolator worked with him at the restaurant as a cashier.
“The owner and other staff at the restaurant have all been arrested,” the exiled monk said.
Chinese official news agency Xinhua in its report has identified the two as Dargye, from Ngaba and Tobgye Tseten, adding that the latter has died.
Lhasa has been at the centre of major Tibetan protests but this is the first time that a self-immolation protest occurred in Tibet’s ancient capital city. Prior to yesterday’s twin self-immolations, 35 Tibetans since 2009, have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom in Tibet.