News and Views on Tibet

Self-immolator’s father commits suicide after harassment from Chinese police

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(Left) Choegyan, late father of self immolator Tsewang Norbu (Right)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, May 13: The father of the late Tibetan singer who died after self-immolating has reportedly committed suicide due to constant threat and harassment by Chinese officials, according to VOA Tibetan Services. Tsewang Norbu died after he self-immolated in front of the Potala Palace on February 25 earlier this year. “The father, Choegyen, was subjected to repeated harassment by the local government officials after Tsewang Norbu’s protest against the Chinese government by setting himself on fire,” the report stated.

The source cited by VOA has reason to believe that intimidation by the government pushed Choegyen to take his own life. Details regarding the exact time and other details of suicide are yet to be ascertained.

“The Chinese government is known for its intimidation tactics towards family members of anyone who carry out any sort of political act. So when I heard the news, my initial reaction was not of surprise but of utmost sadness as this unfortunate incident is evidence of a deeply repressed social system in Tibet,” youth activist Sonam Tsering shared his thoughts with Phayul.

The London-based Free Tibet organization also expressed concern and hurt over the death of Choegyen on Friday, “A horrific example of how the Chinese occupation of Tibet piles tragedy on top of tragedy. Choegyen not only had to go through the pain of outliving his son, but reports state that he was also subjected to endless harassment and threats from Chinese police.” According to the report, Choegyen was the lyricist and composer of a Tibetan performing arts’ group in Nagchu in Kham region.

Tsewang Norbu was a popular contemporary singer both inside and outside Tibet, who sang in Tibetan, Chinese and English. He was deeply inspired by his father’s passion for Tibetan music. “Watching his father compose and create music, Norbu was exposed to music and arts from an early age. Under such influences, he fell in love with music and developed a rare kind of dedication to it,” read the detailed bio of the deceased singer on High Peaks Pure Earth.

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