By Tendar Tsering
Ngawang Norphel, 22 and Tenzin Khedup, 24
DHARAMSHALA, June 26: Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet have arrested family members of Ngawang Norphel, including his wife, following his self-immolation protest last week.
According to reports, a day after Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup set themselves on fire in Zatoe town calling for Tibet’s independence and long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the former’s wife Dolma Dicki along with two other relatives were arrested.
“It is not clear on what charges the three were arrested and their whereabouts is not known,” Sonam Tsering, an exiled Tibetan said citing sources inside Tibet.
Ngawang Norphel, 22 and Tenzin Khedup, 24, set themselves ablaze in the afernoon of June 20
. Both of them were carrying Tibetan national flags in their hands at the time of their self-immolation protest.
Tenzin Khedup sucummbed to his injuries while Ngawang Norphel is believed to be in a critical condition at a Chinese military hospital in Xining.
“The two monks who were sent from Zilkar Monastery to help him have been forbidden entry into the hospital,” the Central Tibetan Administration said in a relase. “They are now said to be at the hospital gate where soldiers stand guard.”
In a new footage immediately shot after their self-immolation protest, released by the CTA last week, Ngawang Norphel, severely burned, could be seen shouting, “What has happened to my Land of Snow?” and also enquiring for his “sworn brother” Tenzin Khedup.
Although under immense visible pain, Ngawang Norphel says that their sacrifice is for the sake of Tibet.
“We two “sworn brothers”, we won’t fail next time. [This is] for the sake of Tibet. We are in the land of snow. If we don’t have our freedom, cultural traditions and language, it would be extremely embarrassing for us,” Ngawang Norphel says.
In a note left behind by the two young Tibetans before taking their drastic action, they urged all Tibetans to be united in the fight for Tibet’s freedom and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile.
“People like us are unable to contribute anything toward Tibetan religion and culture, or contribute economically to help Tibetans,” Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup wrote. They said their actions "show love to the Tibetan people and loyalty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama."
Tenzin Khedup is from Tridu in Keygudo. His parents are Legdup and Kyizom. Ngawang Norphel is from Ngaba, the region which remains the nerve centre of the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
Since Tapey’s self-immolation protest in 2009, 41 more Tibetans have burned themselves calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile.