Tibetan self-immolator Kunchok Phelgye in an undated photo.
DHARAMSHALA, December 8: The alarming escalation in self-immolation protests continues in Tibet with another Tibetan setting himself on fire protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
In fresh reports coming out of Tibet, Kunchok Phelgye, a 24-year-old-monk from the Sumdo Monastery in Dzoege region of eastern Tibet passed away in his self-immolation protest today.
The exile base of the Kirti Monastery in Dharamshala, in a release, said that Kunchok Phelgye set himself on fire in front of the main assembly hall of the Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery at around 5:20 pm (local time).
“Kunchok Phelgye was enveloped in flames and his hands were joined in prayers as he raised slogans for the long life and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, the exiled head of Kirti Monastery,” the release said citing sources in the region. “He also raised slogans calling for the return and reunification of Tibetans.”
Kunchok Phelgye succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.
Monks of the Monastery surrounded Kunchok Phelgye’s burning body and began to recite the prayer, “Losang Gyalwa Kungi Nyingje Ter…” (usually recited in Kirti Rinpoche’s honour). Later, Kunchok Phelgye’s body was carried to his quarters in the Monastery where hundreds of monks and local Tibetans continue to visit to offer their last respects and prayers.
24-year-old Tibetan monk Kunchok Phelgye's body burns outside the Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery in Dzoege, eastern Tibet after he self-immolated demanding the reunification of Tibetans on December 8, 2012.
“Right now hundreds of monks are gathered and offering prayers for the deceased,” the release said. "Local Chinese authorities have now placed Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery and the surrounding villages under security blockade."
Kunchok Phelgye has nine members in his family. His parents are Kunchok Kyab and Dolma Tso.
Since his early childhood, he was a monk at the Sumdo Monastery and in 2010 joined Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery to continue his Buddhist studies.
In the same Dzoege region, Kunchok Kyab
, a 29-year-old father of two, set himself on fire on November 30. He was forcibly taken away by Chinese security personnel, reportedly to a hospital in Barkham, where he passed away on December 1.
The United States this week expressed its “deep concern and sadness” over the “increasing frequency” of self-immolations by Tibetans and blamed China for further exacerbating tensions in the region.
The U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero in a statement issued December 5 accused Chinese authorities of responding to the wave of fiery protests with “measures that tighten already strict controls on freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and association of Tibetans.”
“The United States is deeply concerned and saddened by the continuing violence in Tibetan areas of China and the increasing frequency of self-immolations by Tibetans,” Otero said. “Official rhetoric that denigrates the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and those who have self-immolated has further exacerbated tensions.”
Now, 93 Tibetans have set themselves on fire inside Tibet demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama since the fiery wave of protests began in 2009.