DHARAMSHALA: Phagmo Samdrup, a 27-year-old Tibetan set himself on fire at Tsekhog (incorporated into China’s Qinghai Province) in an apparent protest against the repressive policies of the Chinese government on Wednesday. It was the first Tibetan self-immolation protest of 2014, taking the total self-immolation toll to 125 since 2009.
Phagmo Samdrup burned himself at around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday near the Panchen Day School in Dokarmo township in Tsekhog (in Chinese, Zeku) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Chinese police reportedly arrived at the immolation site and took his body away. His current whereabouts and condition remain unknown at the moment.
Chinese authorities deployed massive security forces in the wee hours of the night, tightening security and restricting the movement of Tibetans around Tsekhog and nearby Rebgong county, where several self-immolations have taken place earlier.
All communication lines in the area were reportedly disconnected after the self-immolation, in an attempt to prevent reports of the self-immolation reaching the media.
Prior to Phagmo Samdrup’s self-immolation, there were reports of heightened security and military clampdown in various parts of Tibet and Tibetan areas ahead of the upcoming Tibetan new year celebrations, which fall on 2 March.
Phagmo Samdrup was a Tibetan tantric practitioner. He is married with two kids. His mother’s name is Drugmo.
Wave of Self-Immolation in Tibet
The wave of self-immolation in Tibet began in 2009 when Tapey, a young monk of Kirti monastery burned himself protesting against the Chinese government’s violent clampdown in Ngaba county (incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province) in response to the peaceful protest of 2008.
Since then, over 125 Tibetans from various parts of Tibet, set themselves on fire in protest against the repressive policies of the Chinese government in Tibetan areas. Out of them, 107 have died while the whereabouts and condition of the remaining self-immolaters are unknown.
Most of the self-immolators have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.