DHARAMSHALA, November 26: In confirmed reports coming out of Tibet, a Tibetan student set himself on fire today in Sertha region of eastern Tibet in an apparent protest against China’s rule.
The young Tibetan man has been identified as Wangyal, a student of Sertha People’s Middle School.
Speaking to Phayul, Sertha Tsultrim Wozer, a Tibetan living in south India said Wangyal set himself on fire in the middle of Sertha town earlier today and raised slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“Martyr Wangyal set himself ablaze on one of the main roads leading to the town centre at around 11:20 am (local time),” Wozer said. “Eyewitnesses say his hands were clasped in prayers as he ran raising slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for the Tibetan people.”
Wangyal ran to the golden horse statue in the middle of Sertha town and fell on the ground.
“Chinese armed forces immediately arrived at the scene of the protest and took Wangyal away after dousing the flames,” the same source added.
Wangyal’s condition and whereabouts are not yet known although eyewitnesses say his entire body was engulfed in flames and he could have suffered major injuries.
Wangyal is around 20 years of age and an orphan. He has three brothers and one sister.
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 82 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
November alone has reported 20 self-immolations and protests by thousands of Tibetans, including by school students in the Rebkong region of eastern Tibet.
The Dharamshala based exile Tibetan administration has said that it will observe a Global Solidarity Day on the occasion of the Human Rights Day on December 10 following the continuing wave of self-immolations.
The Central Tibetan Administration noted that the escalation in self-immolations “clearly reflect the gravity of Tibet’s current situation,” while urging Tibetans and supporters to “light a candle or lamp, observe a minute’s silence, and a say a prayer for all those who have died for the cause of Tibet, and locally organise vigils and rallies.”
“Despite our repeated appeals not to take drastic actions, self-immolations continue in Tibet,” Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people said. “Therefore, I appeal to the international community and governments to stand for justice by answering the universal aspirations of Tibetans in Tibet: the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.”