DHARAMSHALA, October 10: A Tibetan man has been reportedly murdered by Chinese security officials after they found out that he had attempted to set himself on fire in a protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
Dorjee Rabten, 57, was murdered by Chinese officials on August 23 in a guest house in Siling city, where he had gone for a medical checkup.
According to Gyaltsen Choedak, an exiled Tibetan with close contacts in the region, Dorjee Rabten’s elder son Drukjham Gyal was later informed by local Chinese officials to come alone to the city to collect his father’s body without providing any further information.
“But when he reached there the local Chinese officials handed him the ashes of his father,” Choedak told Phayul.
According to the same source, Dorjee Rabten was earlier detained when he traveled to Malho, Chentsa in Amdo region of eastern Tibet to carry out his self-immolation protest.
Rabten had stayed in a guest house and bought kerosene, preparing for his protest.
“But his secret preparations got leaked and on August 17, Chinese security officials surrounded the guest house and arrested Dorjee Rabten,” Choedak said.
On the same day, Dorjee was handed over to his younger brother Riglo Tsering, who was told by the Chinese officials that he was now responsible for all the actions of his elder brother.
“Dorjee Rabten was placed under severe restrictions and Chinese officials visited his house two to three times a day to check on him,” the source said.
“Following the intense pressure and stress, Dorjee Rabten decided to go for a medical checkup to Siling city,” Choedak said citing sources in the region. “Chinese officials secretly followed him to the city and murdered him in his guest house.”
According to sources, Rabten had decided to protest against China’s practice of denouncing the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the lack of freedom in Tibet, and the Chinese government’s policies of restricting academic opportunities to Tibetan youths.
Before his actual self-immolation attempt, Rabten had also gone to meet his 88-year-old father.
Rabten is survived by his two sons, Drukjham Gyal and Sherab, and a daughter Choeyang Dolma.
Since 2009, Tibet has witnessed 54 Tibetans set themselves on fire demanding freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
The month of October alone has seen two self-immolations. On October 6, Sangay Gyatso, 27, a father of two, set himself on fire in Tsoe region of Kanlho, while Gudrub, 43, a Tibetan writer, set himself ablaze in Nagchu town on October 4. Both of them passed away in their fiery protests.