Exiled Tibetans in Dharamshala, India during a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Lungtok and Tashi on August 14, 2012. (Phayul file photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, August 15: The death toll in the ongoing wave of Tibetan self-immolations has now risen to 40 with the passing away of Tashi, a former Kirti Monastery monk, on August 14, a day after his fiery protest.
Tashi, 21, set himself ablaze along with his former classmate Lungtok, a Kirti Monastery monk, protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet Monday at around 6:50 pm (local time).
Lungtok and Tashi carried out their fiery protest on the main road in Ngaba, eastern Tibet now referred to as the ‘Martyr’s Street’ in honour of the number of self-immolations that have been carried out there.
The exile base of the Kirti Monastery in Dharamshala in a release today said that Tashi passed away on August 14 in the nearby region of Barkham.
Lungtok had succumbed to his injuries earlier that day also in Barkham.
It is not yet known whether Tashi’s body has been handed over to his family for last rites.
According to eyewitnesses, Tashi, engulfed in flames, marched on the Martyr’s Street raising slogans when a number of Chinese security personnel surrounded him and started beating him.
Both Lungtok and Tashi were first taken to the local hospital in Ngaba after which they were shifted to Barkham.
Shortly after the self-immolations, a large number of armed police were deployed in the region to quell an impromptu protest by the gathered Tibetans. The Chinese security personnel beat the Tibetans with spiked batons, leaving one Tibetan dead and many severely injured.
The Central Tibetan Administration said that following the twin self-immolations and the public demonstration, all Tibetan businesses in Ngaba remained closed on August 14, as a mark of respect.
Local Tibetans visited monasteries to offer prayers for the deceased and also expressed solidarity with the family members.
With heightening tension in the region, local Chinese authorities on Monday summoned Kirti Monastery’s disciplinarian and other senior officials several times to the town office, CTA said.
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 50 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.