DHARAMSHALA, December 9: A teenaged Tibetan schoolgirl set herself on fire today in eastern Tibet protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet and calling for the long life of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Bhenchen Kyi, 17, set herself on fire in Dokarmo region of Tsekhog, Rebkong, eastern Tibet at around 8 pm (local time). She passed away at the site of her protest.
Sonam, a Tibetan living in Switzerland, told Phayul that Bhenchen Kyi raised slogans for the ‘long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’ and for the ‘Tibetan people to prevail for tens of thousands of years’ while engulfed in flames.
Following her self-immolation protest, local Tibetans were able to rescue her body from falling into the hands of Chinese authorities.
“Around two thousand Tibetans gathered at the site of her protest and raised slogans calling for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and reciting his long life prayers,” Sonam said citing sources in the region. “The crowd was emotionally charged and many of them were crying.”
Hours after her fiery protest, Bhenchen Kyi was cremated at around 12:15 am (local time) in the presence of her family members. According to the same source, more Tibetans started to gather from the nearby areas after hearing the news, and around three thousand people were present at the funeral to pay their last respects.
Days before her protest, Bhenchen Kyi had reportedly told some of her schoolmates during casual conversations that she will self-immolate for the cause of Tibet.
Bhenchen Kyi had further said that she will carry out her self-immolation protest in the nomadic areas, populated by Tibetans, and not in the town centre, so that her parents would be able to look after her dead body.
“I don’t want the Chinese authorities to take away my body,” Bhenchen Kyi had reportedly said.
Her self-immolation protest comes on the eve of a Global Solidarity Day called on December 10 Human Rights Day by the exile Tibetan administration.
Bhenchen Kyi is the 95th Tibetan to self-immolate inside Tibet demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile since the fiery wave began in 2009.
She is survived by her parents, Sonam Tsering and Sermo, and her two siblings.
Bhenchen Kyi is the fourth Tibetan to self-immolate from the Tsekhog region of Rebkong following earlier protests by Sangdag Tsering,
24, Tamding Dorjee
, 29, and Sangay Dolma