Namlha Tsering, 49, sets himself on fire in Labrang, eastern Tibet on February 17, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, February 18: Tibetan self-immolator Namlha Tsering, who set himself on fire in Labrang region of eastern Tibet yesterday, protesting China’s occupation, has reportedly passed away. The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration today said the father of four, succumbed to his injuries.
Earlier reports had indicated that chances of his survival were minimal. In a 23-second video clip of his fiery protest that has reached exile, Namlha Tsering is seen fallen on his back with fire and smoke bellowing out of his body. Namlha Tsering
, 49, also known as Hoba, set himself ablaze on a busy street opposite a cinema hall in Labrang at around 5:40 PM (local time) on February 17. In earlier photos received by Phayul, he is seen sitting cross-legged on the street engulfed in towering flames. According to eyewitnesses, he was bundled away by Chinese security personnel from the scene.
Namlha Tsering is survived by his wife and four sons, the eldest of whom is a monk.
The exile Tibetan administration today called for a worldwide prayer service on Wednesday, February 20 from 3 pm to 5 pm (IST) to “express solidarity with all those Tibetans who have self-immolated and those suffering torture and imprisonment.”
“Despite the Kashag’s repeated appeals not to resort to drastic actions, since 2009, over 102 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese government’s continued occupation of Tibet and repression,” the Central Tibetan Administration said.
The Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy earlier this month reported that the Chinese government has stepped up the ante on propaganda offensive against the self-immolations by conducting ‘patriotic education’ campaigns heavily centred on anti self-immolation messages.
This comes after, what the group termed as “severe and systematic crackdown on self-immolation protests last year.”
According to TCHRD, the Chinese government has published a document, targeting Tibetans, explaining the legal consequences under Chinese Criminal Law for anyone charged of inciting, instigating or abetting self-immolations. The document, probably a booklet, dated January 2013, is titled “Cherish Life, Abide by Law.”
The document, selective pages of which were received by TCHRD, notes that “inciting, misguiding and forcing others to self-immolate will be considered “intentional homicide.”
The document further says that “those who create obstacles in the way of PSB officials, medical personnel and others protecting the self-immolators shall be charged with ‘intentional homicide,’ in accordance with the article 232 of the Criminal Law, and would be given either death sentence, life-imprisonment or ten years of imprisonment. [Those] committing lesser crimes would be sentenced to prison ranging from three to ten years, TCHRD said.
In the past few weeks, Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet have sentenced
a Tibetan to death with a two-year reprieve and several others to lengthy jail terms of up to 13 years for “crimes” related with the self-immolations. Earlier this month, authorities arrested 70 Tibetans in a major sweep, signalling an intensification of crackdown in eastern Tibet, which continues to remain at the heart of the fiery protests.
“The latest arbitrary arrests and detention are part of official attempts to criminalise self-immolation protests by Tibetans and to establish a link between self-immolations in Tibet and the so-called “Dalai clique” in exile,” TCHRD said. “It is part of a systematic and concerted plan by the Chinese government to avoid addressing the real and urgent issues and grievances raised by self-immolation protesters.”