Dharamshala — In solidarity with the continuing tragic self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet, the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration held a special prayer service on Friday, May 20 at the main temple in Dharamshala, India.
The prayer service was presided over by Kasur Kirti Rinpoche, head of Kirti monastery in Dharamshala. Tibetans and supporters, including the Tibetan Chief Justice Commissioners, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, Kalons, members of the Tibetan Parliament attended the special prayer service held in honour of the Tibetans who have self-immolated for the cause of Tibet, including Sonam Tso.
On March 23 Sonam Tso, 50, who was a mother of five, set herself on fire to protest the Chinese government's repressive policies. Her protest has remained unconfirmed until recently.
Addressing the prayer service, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay offered the Kashag's heartfelt condolences to her family members.
"Tibetans inside Tibet continue to suffer unimaginable brutality under the repressive Chinese government. Therefore, the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration stands in solidarity with the sufferings of the Tibetans inside Tibet," Sikyong said addressing the gathering.
"Since 2009, at least 144 Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting the repressive Chinese rule in Tibet. Many of them have died while the status of the rest remain unknown or critically injured. We pray for the swift rebirth of those who have died," he added.
Sonam Tso, died after setting herself on fire on March 23, 2016 to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. She shouted slogans calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
Sources repordedly said that her husband Kelsang Gyaltsen was called-in for questioning three times after her self-immolation. Chinese authorities have destroyed photographic and video evidence of a self-immolation protest staged by the Tibetan mother.
Sonam Tso was the second Tibetan to self-immolate this year after Kalsang Wangdu, a monk of Retsokha Aryaling monastery who burned himself on 29 February in Nyarong county, Karze, Kham Province of eastern Tibet.
Sonam Tso was born and raised in Dotsa Village in Akyi Township, Dzoege County, in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. She is survived by her husband and five children: two sons and three daughters, the oldest daughter is a nun.
This latest incident brought the total verified number of self-immolations in Tibet to 144 since February, 2009 and and of them 124 were reportedly passed-away while the status of the rest remains unknown or critically injured.