• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Dharamshala, India: The second of the two young men who self-immolated in the troubled area of Ngaba county in western China has passed away. Khayang, 18, died in a Bakham hospital on 8 October at around 1pm local time. The other man, Choepel, 19,  is believed to have died at the scene on October 7. The death of Khayang is the eighth death by self-immolation in Ngaba county in two and a half years.

Contradicting these reports, Chinese controlled government news agency, Xinhua, have said both Khayang and Choepel are alive and are in no danger.

On the three days following the self-immolation, in a silent act of solidarity, Tibetans in Ngaba county temporarily shut down their businesses as a demonstration of their support for the two individuals.

Following Khayang's death, many local Tibetans visited their local monasteries making prayers and offerings.

In hospital, Khayang was closely monitored by Chinese authorities. Following his death, despite protests from his family, Khayang's body was seized by Chinese authorities who cremated his body independently and subsequently giving his ashes to his family. This practice of withholding the corpse of dissidents is common in China. The bodies of political prisoners who die in prison are usually not returned to their families.

Before his death, Khayang wrote a letter in hospital saying that he is satisfied that his life has contributed to the Tibetan cause. He said he did not have any regrets and urged his friends, family and fellow Tibetans not to suffer because of his death. The letter has become popular in Ngaba county.

Chinese authorities have imposed restrictions on Khayang's family regarding the rituals that would normally follow a Tibetan death. A limit of five monks has been allowed to make offerings and prayers for the family. The family is also being closely monitored by Chinese security officials.

In an effort to avoid detection and arrest, Tibetans have resorted to some extraordinary means to get there message out in the open. In Ngaba county, individuals writing on the topic of Tibet have been hanging documents using string around the necks of goats.

(with Ven. Kanyak Tsering and Lobsang Yeshi, in exile at Kirti monastery, Dharamshala).