By Tendar Tsering
Exiled Tibetans and supporters in Dharamshala, north India, hold a candle light vigil in solidarity with Choephag Kyab and Sonam, who set themselves on fire in the Zamthang region of Ngaba, eastern Tibet on April 19, 2012 (Phayul photo)
DHARAMSHALA, April 20: Exile sources are confirming the death of Choephag Kyab and Sonam, the two young Tibetan, who set themselves on fire in the Zamthang region of Ngaba, eastern Tibet, yesterday.
Speaking at a candle light vigil in the exile headquarters of Dharamshala, Thursday evening, an exile Tibetan, Tsangyang Gyatso, who has contacts in the region, confirmed the deaths.
“Choephag Kyab and Sonam are relatives. Both succumbed to their burn injuries,” Gyatso told a gathering of Tibetan and foreigners.
The two lay Tibetans, both in their early 20s, torched themselves at around 1 pm (local time) yesterday in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
They carried out their fiery protest close to a local government office in Barma township near Jonang Zamthang Gonchen monastery in Zamthang (Ch: Rangtang) county, in the distraught Ngaba region, the nerve centre of the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
Local Tibetans gathered in large numbers at the site of the protest to protect them from being carried away by Chinese security personnel and later carried the bodies to the Zamthang monastery.
“Though the Chinese police were not able to confiscate the bodies of Choephag Kyab and Sonam, but the local Tibetans have been issued strict orders to cremate them by the day’s end,” Gyatso said.
Although no further details on the developments in Zamthang are currently available, sources say that hundreds of monks have gathered at the monastery, saying prayers for the two Tibetans.
The continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet has witnessed 35 Tibetans set their bodies on fire, since 2009, demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
Speaking at the candle light vigil, Dhondup Lhadar, vice president of the Tibetan Youth Congress noted that the continuing wave of self-immolations was a sign of growth of the Tibetan struggle.
“With the fiery wave of self-immolations we are being terrified and troubled. But we must also realise that this is a growth of our struggle,” Lhadar said. “We have been driven to shed tears but we must never forget why we are shedding those tears.”
In a recent interview to a media crew of the Taiwan based Next TV, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the People Republic of China’s “totalitarian, blind, unrealistic” policies in Tibet are responsible for the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
“This problem (self-immolations) has been started by the totalitarian, blind, unrealistic policies,” the Tibetan leader said. “So, the people who created these policies must think seriously.”