Tibetan Man Dies in Self-Immolation Protest in Front of Police Station

A Tibetan man set himself on fire and died in Gansu province on Tuesday in the first self-immolation protest in three months against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas in China, sources said.

Sangye Khar, 33, set himself ablaze between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. in front of a police station in Amchok township in Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Khar died “in protest against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The last two Tibetan self-immolations also occurred near police stations.

Authorities have stepped up security in Amchok and clamped down on communications, including the Internet.

“When I heard about the incident, I called my friends and went to see [Khar’s] condition, but the Chinese authorities had already taken his body away,” he said.

“Soon after this, the presence of security personnel increased in the area, and restrictions were imposed on the movements of the people in the area.”

Community of farmers

Chinese police tried to extinguish the flames on Khar's burning body but apparently failed, a Tibetan living in exile and giving his name as Tamdin told RFA, citing contacts in the region.

“We could not confirm that he died at the scene, but I heard that the Chinese took his body to Labrang [monastery], where it was cremated,” he said.

Another local source confirmed the self-immolation, saying Khar was a resident of Amchok township’s Chung Nyuthang village.

“The members of his community are primarily farmers dependent on the cultivation of land,” said the source, who sent RFA Khar's photo.

“His father’s name is Ranglo, and his mother’s name is Yudron."

“All lines of communication are now blocked, and it is very difficult to get updates,” he said.

Burning numbers climb

Khar’s burning brings to 134 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, and is the first since September.

The last Tibetan self-immolation occurred on Sept. 17 when a 22-year-old student burned himself to death in front of a police station in Gansu province's Tsoe (Hezuo) county in protest against Chinese rule.

Lhamo Tashi set himself on fire and shouted slogans before succumbing to his burns on the spot.

A day earlier, on Sept. 16, Konchok, 42, set himself on fire beside a police station in Qinghai province's Gade (Gande) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, but Tibetans nearby managed to douse the flames and rushed him to a nearby hospital.

News of his burning in Tsang Khor town emerged only in early October, apparently due to the communication clampdowns usually imposed by Chinese authorities following self-immolation protests, they said.

Chinese authorities have tightened controls in a bid to check self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing Tibetans linked to the burnings. Some have been jailed for up to 15 years.

Reported for RFA’s Tibetan Service by Kunsang Tenzin. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.