Tibetan Monk Self-Immolates and Dies in Nepal
A Tibetan monk burned himself and died in Nepal Tuesday to protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas in China—the third Tibetan self-immolation in the small Himalayan nation, according to sources.
Karma Ngedon Gyatso, 39, lit butter lamps and recited prayers before setting himself ablaze at the Boudhanath Stupa, a famous gathering place for Buddhist pilgrims in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, where many Tibetan exiles live, the sources said. He was taken away in critical condition to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu where he was pronounced dead, the sources said, adding that scores of police converged at the shrine to beef up security in the area. Gyatso, from Damshung (in Chinese, Dangxiong) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, “set himself ablaze at the prostration site inside the sacred Boudhanath Stupa,” a source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“I saw the Nepali police taking him away in a wooden stretcher,” a second source said. Police in Nepal have summoned local Tibetan community leaders for an “inquiry” over the self-immolation death, sources said. Based on a document made available to RFA, Gyatso, whose father’s name is Jamyang Tashi and his mother’s name is Uygen, had gone to India from Tibet before arriving in Nepal.
The self-immolation is the third so far in Nepal and the fifth among Tibetan exiles. A total of 121 Tibetans in China have so far burned themselves in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan populated areas and demanded the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is living in exile in India. The two previous self-immolations in Nepal also occurred at the Boudhanath Stupa temple.
In February, a 25-year old Tibetan monk Drongchen Tsering set fire to himself and died. His body was secretly cremated in Kathmandu late at night at the instruction of the Nepalese authorities without Buddhist or any other religious rituals being carried out, despite appeals from the Tibetan community for monks to be in attendance to offer prayers. The first Tibetan self-immolation in Nepal was reported in November 2011 when a monk identified as Bhutok wrapped a Tibetan flag around himself, doused himself in kerosene while shouting slogans calling for a free Tibet and then set himself alight. Buddhist pilgrims at the stupa managed to quickly put out the flames and he survived.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees have fled Chinese rule to live in Nepal. Beijing is becoming more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict their activities and to help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border. Reported by Lumbum Tashi, Dorjee Damdul, and Yangdon Demo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.