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Dharamshala:  Tsewang Norbu, a 29-year old monk from Nyitso monastery in Kham Tawu in eastern Tibet, set himself on fire yesterday, August 15, after protesting for "freedom in Tibet" and "the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

16 august 2011 001Dharamshala:  Tsewang Norbu, a 29-year old monk from Nyitso monastery in Kham Tawu in eastern Tibet, set himself on fire yesterday, August 15, after protesting for "freedom in Tibet" and "the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

The incident occurred at 12:30pm yesterday.  After protesting and distributing leaflets in the town's market, the monk drank petrol, doused himself with the petrol, and set himself on fire.  He died instantly.

According to reports by Phayul and the Tibetan Women's Association, the monk was making a statement against the restriction of religious freedom and the increasing political indoctrination by the Chinese government.

After the incident, his fellow monks carried the body back the monastery to prepare for last rites and pujas.  The Chinese government, however, had stationed troops around the monastery and surrounding streets, and soldiers attempted to forcibly take the body from the monks.

Telephone and internet access in the area were cut off by the Chinese government in efforts to stop the flow of information out of the area.

The incident occured after Tibetans in the area were prohibited from celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday on July 6.  Following attempts by monks and nuns to defy the government and hold birthday celebrations in the area, the Chinese government cut off water and electricity supplies to the monastery and nunnery.  The water and electricity have remained cut off since July 6.

The self-immolation also follows the death of Thinley from Beri Serkha, Kham Kardeze, Eastern Tibet.  He died a few days ago after months of torture in prison at the hands of the Chinese government.

In response, NGOs in Dharamshala organized a candlelight vigil last night, August 15, at 6:30pm.  At the vigil, which took place at the main temple in McLeod Ganj, Tibetans and supporters remembered Tsewang Norbu and his call for freedom.  The Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, the Tibetan Women's Association, and Students for a Free Tibet-India organized the vigil.

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