By Tendar Tsering
H.E. the 11th Kriti Rinpoche presides over prayer service for self-immolators, Dharamshala, India, May 3, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, May 3: Led by H.E. the 11th Kirti Rinpoche, Tibetans here in the exile headquarters of Dharamshala held a mass prayer service for the 36 Tibetans who have set their bodies on fire in the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
“Coinciding with the 49th day since the passing away of Sonam Dhargyal, we are holding this prayer service for all the Tibetan martyrs who immolated themselves calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile,” one of the organisers said.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that after death, the consciousness takes at least 49 days to travel from one life to the next and conducting prayers during this period can assist and guide the dead towards a good rebirth.
Sonam Dhargey, a 44-year-old farmer had set himself ablaze on March 17, triggering what many believe the “largest” gathering of Tibetans in the Rongwo region of eastern Tibet.
The father of three, succumbed to his burns at the site of the protest near the Rongwo town centre, following which local Tibetans carried his body to Dolma Square, the main ground in front of the Rongwo monastery.
As news spread of Sonam Dhargey’s fiery death, thousands of Tibetans from all over the town as well as from nearby villages, including some 600 Tibetans from Sonam’s village poured in to show their solidarity.
Since Tapey’s self-immolation in 2009, the Ngaba region, which hosts the Kirti monastery, alone has witnessed 25 instances of fiery protests.
Testifying before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on ‘Human Rights in Tibet:
Repression, Refugees, and Religious Freedom’ November last, Kirti Rinpoche, Head Abbot of the Kirti Monastery said that his native monastery has been turned into a “dreaded jail.”
“Within the barricaded monastery, the monks were divided into fifty-five groups and over 800 government officials moved into the monastic compound,” Rinpoche said in his testimony.
“Monks’ quarters are searched, all electronic devices have been confiscated, holy-scriptures are cut into pieces by knives and monks are forced to stamp on photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. About 100 monks were arrested en-mass, tortured and interrogated.”