Dharamshala, India — Two young Tibetan men reportedly set themselves on fire in Ngaba County of Tibet on Sunday in protest against China's repressive rule in the occupied Himalayan region—one of them reportedly died and the other was severely injured.
'Gedun Gyatso, aged around 16, and Choekyi Gyatso, age unknown set fire to themselves on Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Ngaba County in Eastern Tibet,' a senior Tibetan monk living in-Exile with close contacts in the region told the TPI. 'They have set themselves on fire in protest against the occupation, human rights abuses and restrictions on Tibet’s religion and culture.'
Chinese Security and armed police quickly arrived at the scene and took them away and their conditions were described as critical. Gedun Gyatso was taken to a hospital in Chungchu County and Choekyi Gyatso was taken to a hospital in Barkham, also neighbouring county, but the source said 'one of them succumbed to his injuries', said Tulku Choedrup Rinpoche from Namdroling Monastery in South India.
"They both were monks and they have set themselves on fire at the Heroes Street in Ngaba County while shouting slogans calling for political and religious freedom in Tibet," Choedrup Rinpoche said, adding: "But other details remain unknown".
"We didn't know these incidents did happen but the Chinese authorities have tightened security in the County recent days and imposed tightened controls over access to the internet and other communications channels," a second source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Their protests were in Ngaba County, Amdo tradition province of Tibet, where over 40 previous self-immolation protests have taken place, to stage a protes against tight Chinese control of the region and cultural religious repression.
The latest self-immolation by Gedun Gyatso and Choekyi Gyatso brought the total verified number of self-immolations inside Tibet to 156. Of these, 129 are known to have died while the status of the rest remains unknown. Most of the self-immolators called for the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom for the people of Tibet and while many of the self-immolators called out for independence for Tibet.
Since Xi Jinping gained power in 2013, he has retained and even intensified its hard-line policies against Tibetans in Tibet. Xi is now the most powerful Chinese authoritarian ruler since Mao and has moved the system back toward one-man rule- a neo-totalitarian party-state. Under Xi's firm hand, dictatorial controls and censorship have been tightened relentlessly, particulary in Tibet.
The Chinese Communist totalitarian regime began their invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.