By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, December 27: In continuing crackdown on family members and relatives of Tibetan self-immolators, the father and grandfather of Tibetan self-immolator Gonpo Tsering have been arrested by Chinese authorities.
Gonpo Tsering, 24, set himself on fire in front of the main prayer hall of the Ala Deu-go Monastery in Ala region of Luchu, eastern Tibet on November 26 in protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet. The father of three succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.
According to Beijing based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser, Chinese security personnel detained Gonpo Tsering’s father Tashi Sonam and grandfather, ten days of the self-immolation protest.
The condition and whereabouts of the two remain unknown.
Woeser added that the Gonpo Tsering’s family members had recently spoken to undercover reporters of France’s newspaper Le Monde.
The reporters were able to secretly visit the Amdo region of eastern Tibet, which has witnessed the largest number of self-immolations. Following China’s harsh security clampdown in the entire region, the Le Monde reporters became the first international reporters to gain direct access and speak to family members of Tibetan self-immolators.
The reporters also visited the house of Tibetan self-immolator Tsering Dhondup, spoke to family members, and also took pictures of Tsering Dhondup’s father carrying his late son’s photo.
Tsering Dhondup, 35, had set himself ablaze on a ground near the entrance of a mining site in Amchok region of Labrang, Sangchu on November 20. He succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 95 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration has repeatedly appealed China to address the grievances of the Tibetan people, review their policies in Tibet, and allow diplomats and international media to visit Tibet. Similar appeals have been made by the United Nations, European Union, and countries including the US, UK, and Canada.
Earlier in October, an undercover reporter for the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, who was able to gain rare access to the otherwise no-go zone of eastern Tibet, said that every Tibetan town he visited was "crawling with police."
After being chased, caught, and escorted out of Tibet, the reporter summed up his short visit saying: "Behind us is fear, resentment and tragedy, along with government policies showing no sign of winning over Tibetans."