By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, March 16: A Tibetan monk today set himself on fire in protest against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies in the restive Ngaba region, said Kanyag Tsering, a Tibetan monk of Kirti monastery here.
Lobsang Palden, a monk of Kirti monastery in his early twenties, set himself ablaze in protest against China’s hard-line policies at the ‘Pawoe Sanglam’ (Martyr’s Street) in Ngaba town around 11.30AM (local time). Chinese police immediately arrived at the protest site, doused the flame and took him away in a vehicle. It is not known if he is still alive or has succumbed to his burns.
March 16, 2014 marks the sixth year since protests by Tibetans in Ngaba in 2008 when several Tibetans died, were tortured or imprisoned in the run up to the Beijing Olympics. Three monks of Kirti monastery had died since 2011 by setting their bodies on fire on the same date (March 16) at the same spot. They were Lobsang Phuntsok (2011), Lobsang Tsuiltrim (2012), and Lobsang Thokmay (2013).
photo/provided by source
Before setting himself on fire, Palden had reportedly left a text message in his phone in which he prayed for his parents, family members, teachers and relatives. He also called for unity among Tibetans. “We should maintain cordial relations with others, particularly with Chinese because if we are united and have love for each other, no matter what our thoughts are, it will enable us to communicate with each other better,” the message says (translated from Tibetan by phayul
Following his self-immolation protest, situation in the region remains tense with the local Chinese authorities deploying large number of armed security forces in Ngaba town. This is the third Tibetan self immolation protest of 2014.
Lobsang's younger brother is also a monk in the same monastery. His family 'Ashertsang' consisting of mother Namkho and step father Sherab lives in Meruma village in Ngaba. Lobsang had been in the monastery since his childhood.
Lobsang Palden became the 128th Tibetan to self immolate in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies since 2009.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports about another self immolation by a Tibetan monk in Tibet's Tsekhog County earlier today. However, its authenticity could not be verified at this time.