Dharamshala, India: - A Tibetan monk set himself on fire in Dharlag town of Golok county, eastern Tibet on Sunday, January 8, according to sources in Tibet. He is the 3rd Tibetan to self-immolate in the past four days as an act of protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.
The sources say that before 42-year-old Sonam Wangyal set himself on fire, he climbed a local hill, burned incense, prayed, and later distributed many leaflets in which he wrote that he was going to perform a deadly act for Tibet and the happiness of Tibetan people. He also said he was doing so to commemorate all the Tibetans who have died since 2009 for the restoration of freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
"-Wangyal, a venerated spiritual figure set himself on fire and succumbed to his injuries. A man in his 40s, is said to have self immolated to protest the lack of religious freedom in his homeland," said the central Tibetan administration in a statement issued on Sunday.
"People of Tibet should not lose their hopes and faith. The happiness day definitely will come. For the spiritual lead of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama to live long, the Tibetans should not lose track of their path" Wangyal wrote.
Due to his position as a local spiritual leader approximately 2,000 local Tibetans are said to have held a candlelight vigil urging the local Chinese authorities to release his body, Tibetan officials added.
China's state controlled news agency - Xinhua confirmed Sunday that a former Tibetan monk has died after he and another man set themselves on fire Friday near the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba county of eastern Tibet.
At least 15 Tibetan Buddhists are believed to have set themselves on fire in the past year since a young monk, Phuntsok protesting Chinese rule died after self-immolating outside the restive Kirti monastery in March. That death sparked months of protests by monks and nuns and triggered a major Chinese crackdown that included the arrests and disappearances of hundreds of Tibetans.
The Obama administration recently urged Chinese government to address its "counter-productive policies" in eastern Tibet. An official said China's policies have created tensions which threaten the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.