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Ngaba monk immolates self to mark 3 years since bloody crackdown

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Thursday, Mar 17, 2011
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By Kalsang Rinchen

Dharamsala, March 16 – A Tibetan monk of Kirti monastery in Amdo Ngaba is reportedly dead after he set himself ablaze at a market near his monastery, according to a reliable source with contacts in the region.

The source said that Phuntsok, 21, of Kirti monastery carried out protest at the busy market of Ngaba around 4PM (Beijing Time) before immolating himself. It is not yet known what slogans he chanted during the brief protest that was, according to the source, aimed to mark the 3rd anniversary of bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters in Ngaba on March 16, 2008.

Chinese police immediately arrived at the scene, doused the fire, and beat Phuntsok, said the source. As the police were trying to take him away in a waiting police van scores of Tibetans rushed to the scene and protected Phuntsok. The crowd later grew in numbers, and took Phuntsok to his monastery making sure the Chinese police did not take him away. According to unconfirmed information from Ngaba, Phuntsok has succumbed to his burns, and that his body is lying in a chapel of the monastery.

Hundreds of angry Tibetans immediately gathered at the main market and carried out protests against the Chinese government. They walked almost a mile from the main market chanting anti-government slogans before being dispersed by Chinese security forces. Troops have been brought in from neighboring areas to quell the protests. Hundreds of Tibetans were arrested, and several others sustained injuries from electric baton and iron rods used by Chinese soldiers on the protesters.

A public sentencing rally in Ngaba County, as broadcast on Chinese state-run television in 2008. (Photo: ICT)

On March 16, 2008, China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) indiscriminately fired live ammunition on unarmed protesters including monks of Ngaba Kirti monastery leading to the death of at least 7 Tibetans on the spot and injuring several others. The incident took place after a regular prayer session at the monastery on March 16, 2008 when hundreds of monks suddenly erupted into spontaneous protest and chanted slogans calling for “Tibet’s independence”, “return of the Dalai Lama” and “freedom for Tibet”. The monks were later joined by lay people of Ngaba.

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