Tibetan teenager self immolates in protest of Chinese rule

May 8, 2017

A 16-year-old in the Tibetan region of Gansu has set himself on fire in yet another protest of China’s rule of the territory.

The teenager identified as Chagdor Kyab reportedly self-immolated near the Bora Monastery in Gansu, bringing the number of self-immolations in Tibet and China to 149 since February 2009 according to data collected by the International Campaign for Tibet.

A witness to the incident said the boy yelled “Tibet wants freedom” and “Let His Holiness the Dalai Lama come back to Tibet” and attempted to run towards Chinese government offices as he burned, reports Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibetan service.

Self-immolations have increased in regularity since early 2011, with Chinese authorities cracking down on the protests via harsh sentences and torture for those suspected of involvement.

Earlier this month, a doctor was detained again by the police for allegedly sending photos of a self-immolating protester to international media. He had previously been held for over a month after being arrested in December 2016.

Footage emerged of a monk self-immolating in China’s Sichuan province in mid-April. Even witnesses of self-immolation protests are liable to prosecution and detainment. Around 200 people were detained by Chinese authorities after a Tibetan farmer self-immolated in March.

Chagdor Kyab’s self-immolation comes amidst criticisms of India for hosting the Dalai Lama, who recently said Tibet was “not seeking independence” from China, but instead wanted “meaningful autonomy.”

RFA reports that on May 2, Chinese security personnel quickly arrived at the scene, extinguished the blaze and took Chagdor Kyab’s body. It is yet unclear whether he survived.

Most protesters who have set themselves alight since 2009 have subsequently died.