DHARAMSHALA: The Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration organised a prayer service today to mourn the demise of latest self-immolator Tsekho who set himself on fire in protest against the Chinese government on 7 March. The prayer service was led by Venerable Thomtok Rinpoche, abbot of Namgyal Monastery, and attended by CTA President, Kalons, Tibetan parliamentarians and justice commissioners along with staff of the Central Tibetan Administration and local Tibetan public.
In his condolence remarks, President Dr Lobsang Sangay spoke briefly about the self-immolator Tsekho’s life and described him as a hard working father of two who always step forward to work for the Tibet cause. “Tsekho, a 44-year old Tibetan, set himself on fire in Meuruma, Ngaba in eastern Tibet. His self-immolation protest is covered by international newspapers such as The Washington Post, AFP, etc. Twenty parliamentarians from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania also mentioned Tsekho in a statement of support they issued on the 59th anniversary of the Tibetan national Uprising day on 10 March,” he said.
“The self-immolation protests are a reflection of the critical situation prevailing inside Tibet under China. Since 2009, at least 152 Tibetans have set themselves on fire calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibetans. From the 152, 130 have died while the status of the rest remains unknown. Ngaba in particular has been a hot bed of the self-immolation protests that swept Tibet,” he added.
CTA President also spoke about the fire that engulfed the Jokhang temple on the second day of the Tibetan new year on 17 February 2018. He called on UNESCO to investigate into the matter and urged China to allow journalists into Tibet for an independent investigation
“According to the fresh sources that reached out to the Central Tibetan Administration, the damage caused by the fire is much more extensive than initially reported. Although the information about the Jowo statue is not clear, the back wall of the statue and murals in the chapel has to some extent suffered damage from the fire,” he said.
“The fire has caused extensive damage to four shrines within the Tsuglakhang premises including the Palden Lhamo Yum Drakmo chapel, Songtsen chapel, Mani Chapel (which houses numerous relics, scriptures and commentaries by many Tibetan Buddhist scholars) and the Namsey Chapel. These chapels have survived the onslaught of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s but have suffered extensive damage in the fire,” he explained.
Expressing his deep concern over the tragic incident, he called for a transparent verification of the fire and investigation into the extent of the damage caused by the fire to the Jokhang, a world heritage site recognised by UNESCO.