Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India: Unidentified monk self-immolated in front of the exiled leader Dalai Lama’s poster in Tibet.
He was protesting against the widespread crackdown of Tibetan Buddhist institutions in the so-called Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, which is in the traditional Amdo region, reported Phayul.
Dharamshala-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) report revealed that at the time of his death, “the monk was in retreat at his residence in Khagya Township, which comes under the jurisdiction of the prefectural capital of Tsoe City.”
The governor and deputy party secretary of Kanlho prefecture, Yang Wu has played a pivotal role in tightening control over monasteries and the spiritual practice of monks in retreat, reported Phayul.
The exile sources cited by the research group said that the deceased monk’s family has been taken to Tsoe city where they were detained at an undisclosed location under the pretext of COVID-19 prevention measures, reported Phayul.
“They are being detained on the pretext that they had possibly been infected with Covid after one of their relatives had returned from a Chinese town where he was employed as a casual worker,” the same source said.
“Going on a retreat is a profound Buddhist practice that helps practitioners to focus on the mind and deepen one’s spiritual practice free from distractions. That a mere monk is unable to engage safely in solitary spiritual retreat at his own home without the violent interferences of the Chinese state shows the extent and depth of religious repression in Tibet,” TCHRD researcher Nyiwoe said while condemning the Chinese government.
The sources also noted that restrictions across the concerned prefecture have intensified to impede efforts to immediately identify the self-immolator.
The rights group further condemned the crackdown on the Tibetan religious community and urged for an immediate thorough investigation into the untimely death of the monk.
“Both Yang Wu and Yu Chenghui, the Kanlho party secretary, must be investigated for their role in the circumstances leading to the death of the unidentified monk. We call on Chinese authorities to immediately put a halt to policies and practices that violate human rights, particularly the right to freedom of religion and belief,” the statement further read.
As many as 159 Tibetans have set themselves on fire within the borders of China since 2009, according to a tally maintained by Radio Free Asia.
Another ten have taken their lives in Nepal and India, US government-funded organization data says. Experts believe Tibetans, many of whom are monks, kill themselves in this atrocious way due to the persecution they endure under China’s rule of their country.
The Chinese authorities last month placed Lhasa under tight control after Tibetan singer Tsewang Norbu died of severe burns.
Tsewang Norbu died in the People’s Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa on the first weekend of March, reliable sources had informed the International Campaign for Tibet.