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Tibetan sets fire to himself in Kathmandu; in Tibet, 100th self-immolation


By: International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)

Tibetan monk Lobsang Namgyal set fire to himself and died on February 3, according to information received by Kirti monks in exile.
Feb. 13, 2013 - A Tibetan monk in his thirties called Lobsang Namgyal set fire to himself and died on February 3, according to information received today by Kirti monks in exile. Lobsang Namgyal, who was known as a serious and exceptional scholar, was the 100th known Tibetan to self-immolate inside the PRC.

A Tibetan set fire to himself by the Boudha stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal, today, the third day of the Tibetan New Year (Losar). Images show flames blazing from his entire body as he stands upright before Nepalese police extinguished the fire and took him to hospital. He is said to have suffered from burns over more than 95% of his body. Nepalese police have stepped up security and riot police have been stationed near the Boudhanath stupa, which is the main Tibetan area of Kathmandu and an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

Self-immolation in Kathmandu

Nepalese police told media that the Tibetan in Kathmandu set fire to himself outside a restaurant near the Boudhanath stupa at around 8.15 am local time today and is now undergoing treatment at the intensive-care unit of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital where his condition is “very critical,” according to hospital staff. The man’s identity has not been confirmed, but he is said to have been a monk, possibly based in a monastery in Nepal. It is the sixth self-immolation of a Tibetan in exile.

The Tibetan man appeared to have doused himself in gasoline in the toilet of a restaurant near the stupa. Sagar Satyal, manager of Golden Eyes Restaurant and Café, said he was opening his café when the man walked in and indicated that he wanted to use the toilet. Mr Satyal said that he was wearing a long light-green jacket and was carrying a black backpack, and that it seemed he could not speak Nepali fluently. Mr. Satyal said: “He looked normal—no anger or any expression on his face.” (Wall Street Journal blog). The man then went into the street and set himself on fire. A waiter at the café said he found a gasoline bottle, a jacket and a bag in the cafe’s bathroom.

The area was particularly busy at the time as it is the third day of Tibetan New Year, Losar, when Tibetans and other Buddhist devotees traditionally carry out religious practice and circumambulate the Boudhanath stupa. A Tibetan present at the stupa after the self-immolation said that many Tibetans appeared too nervous to speak about the incident; Tibetan communities in Nepal are increasingly constrained by local authorities from expressing their national identity due to China's significant and growing influence in Nepal. (See ICT report: Dangerous Crossing).

Tibetan monk in his thirties is 100th Tibetan self-immolator in PRC

According to news that has just been received by Kirti monks in exile, a Tibetan monk in his mid-thirties called Lobsang Namgyal set fire to himself and died on February 3 outside the Public Security Bureau of Dzorge (Chinese: Ruergai/Zoige) County in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, the Tibetan area of Amdo. He was heard calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama while he was ablaze, according to the monks.

Lobsang Namgyal had been a monk at Kirti monastery in Ngaba, where Tapey, also a Kirti monk, became the first Tibetan in Tibet to set fire to himself on February 27, 2009. Lobsang Namgyal’s ashes have not been returned to his family, according to the monks.

Lobsang Namgyal was known as an exceptional student at Kirti monastery who had been tipped to study for the highest qualification in Tibetan Buddhism, a Geshe degree. “He was regarded as a model for a new generation of students at Kirti,” the Kirti monks in exile said in a statement in Tibetan.

But in September 2012 Lobsang Namgyal disappeared, and was believed to have been detained. The Kirti monks in exile said that the local authorities had sought to isolate him and ruin his reputation as a serious student. Lobsang Namgyal had been so distressed that he had left for a rural nomadic area awayfrom the monastery, but still he had been under intense surveillance. His family too had been harassed by the authorities in the intense security crackdown that has followed the self-immolations in Ngaba. Before his death on February 3, he had returned to Kirti monastery and told some Tibetans that he wanted to go away on a religious retreat. A few days later, he set himself on fire.



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