Tibetans in the exile headquarters of Dharamshala holding a prayer service for Ngawang Norphel at the Tsug-la Khang temple on August 2, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, August 3: Hundreds of Tibetan including the Tibetan Chief Justice Commissioners, Kalons, and members of Parliament attended a prayer service yesterday held in honour of Ngawang Norphel, the Tibetan self-immolator, who passed away in a Chinese hospital on July 30.
The prayer service held at the Tsug-la Khang, the main temple, was organised by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Ngawang Norphel, 21 and Tenzin Khedup, 24, had set themselves on fire in Zatoe town of Keygudo, Kham on June 20, protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. Both of them were carrying Tibetan national flags in their hands as they lit themselves up.
Tenzin Khedup sucummbed to his injuries shortly after his protest while Ngawang Norphel was taken to a hospital in a critical condition.
Ngawang Norphel’s father Lhakpa Dhondup, a native of Zurtso Truldul village in the Nyalam region of western Tibet, was informed about his son’s condition only a month or so later.
Phegyel, a close family member, who now lives in exile told Phayul that although the father and son were allowed to meet, they were constantly under Chinese surveillance.
“Whenever Ngawang Norphel, who was severely burned and in a very serious condition, tried to utter a few words to his father, Chinese officials at once came to interrogate him and ask questions,” Phegyel said. “Then he gradually stopped talking.”
Ngawang Norphel passed away on July 30 at around 3:30 pm.
In a video footage immediately shot after their self-immolation protest, 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.
Since 2009, 45 Tibetans have set themselves on fire demanding freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.