A 63-year-old Tibetan monk has self-immolated in southwest China in protest against Beijing’s presence in Tibet, campaigners said, the fifth person to do so this year.
Tenga, a popular monk and volunteer teacher of village children, died after setting himself ablaze Sunday in Sichuan province’s Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, said the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), headquartered in Washington.
The group said he was the 151st Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009. Earlier this year, another Ganzi resident named Wangchuk Tseten also carried out a fatal self-immolation.
Authorities told AFP they knew nothing about the latest incident.
London-based campaign group Free Tibet cited a friend of Tenga’s present at the scene as saying the monk shouted “we want freedom in Tibet” as he lit himself on fire.
It released a horrific minute-long video of the incident, which showed the man burning on a street before a crowd of onlookers, as some quietly recited prayers. Uniformed officers then swept in with blankets and a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
This candelight vigil … Tenga an elderly Tibetan monk, 63, set fire to himself to death on November 26, 2017 in Karze County of eastern Tibet. Tenga la as we pay our respects and pray for a swift rebirth in a Free Tibet. pic.twitter.com/at1xzjXlrz
— Tsonam (@Tibetangal17) November 30, 2017
“He said that every Tibetan has a responsibility, and told me that wherever I went, I should not forget Tibet. I always remember him saying, proudly, I am Tibetan,” said one of Tenga’s relatives now living in exile in the US, according to the ICT.
Beijing says its troops “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse the Communist central government of religious repression and eroding their culture.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled into exile after a failed uprising in 1959.
Tibetan monks within China have reported a campaign of government intimidation targeting the family and friends of those who set themselves on fire.