DHARAMSHALA, March 4: In confirmed reports coming out of Tibet, a Tibetan mother of four passed away after setting her body on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.
The self-immolation occurred in the beleaguered Ngaba region of eastern Tibet at around 6.30 a.m. (local time) today.
Rinchen, 33, torched her body in front of a special security office outside the main entrance of the besieged Kirti monastery, specifically set up by the local Chinese authorities following the spate of self-immolation and protests in the region.
According to sources in exile, monks from the Kirti monastery were able to rescue Rinchen’s charred body and carried it inside the monastery.
“Engulfed in flames, Rinchen raised slogans demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet. She passed away immediately,” said the exile base of Kirti monastery in a release today.
The eldest of Rinchen’s four children is 13 years old while the youngest is a few months old baby. Their father passed away last year.
The stringent security measures in place were beefed up in the region following the self-immolation.
Rinchen’s self-immolation protest comes days ahead of the March 10 Tibetan National Uprising Day and the one year anniversary of the March 16 self-immolation of Kirti monk Phuntsog, which ignited the ongoing fiery wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
Since 2009, 24 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. Ngaba alone has witnessed 16 self-immolations.
International journalists who have been able to sneak into the restricted Ngaba region have described the town as a “conflict zone” with security personnel, armed with automatic rifles, stationed all over the place.
Kirti monastery has faced severe repression with hundreds of its monks having disappeared, detained without charge and given lengthy jail terms. Hundreds of Chinese security personnel and CCTV cameras inside the monastery have been keeping a close watch on the movement of the monks.
Last week, an Associated Press journalist who managed to get through several checkpoints along the road leading to Ngaba reported that China's “stifling lockdown” has not only been about patrolling the streets, but also “policing the minds” of the community.
"The locals are definitely feeling very heavy-hearted, very frustrated, all day. The soldiers are everywhere," a teacher was quoted as saying in the report. "At every moment, people wonder what will happen to the person next to them, what the soldiers will do to them."