DHARAMSHALA, February 18: Chinese authorities in Tibet's Tsekhok County had arrested five Tibetans including a younger brother of Phagmo Samdrup who died a day after his self immolation protest on Feb. 5, a Tibetan source said.
The five Tibetans were identified as Gyatso, Samdup’s younger brother, Pema, Tseten Gyal and a couple belonging to family by the name of Pado. However, after days of interrogation the authorities held back Tseten Gyal and released the other four.
Doused in gasoline, 27 year old Phagmo Samdup set himself on fire near Bhenchen School in Dokarmo town around 9.30 PM (local time) on February 5. Chinese police took him away immediately. He succumbed to his burn injuries at a hospital in Xiling the following day. Without informing his family members, Chinese authorities cremated Samdup’s body at an undisclosed cremation site.
Samdup’s family members were restricted to offer any prayers or butter lamps for him with armed soldiers patrolling at their door, added the source. Monks and local Tibetans were also barred from visiting the family.
Chinese authorities also forced his family to throw his remains in Machu River, a Tibetan source said, adding that they even confiscated a golden ring belonging to the deceased.
Since 2009, 127 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet to protest against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.
Chinese authorities over the past year have arrested family members and relatives of Tibetans who have carried out self immolation protests. In Zoege County, the authorities last year issued a circular listing 16 articles that warn Tibetans of harsh punishments for any link to self immolation protests.