Tsekho, who set fire to himself and died on March 7, 2018. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — A Tibetan father of two children has died in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet after carrying out a self-immolation protest against Chinese occupation of Tibet.

"Tsekho Aka Tsekho Thukchak, a 44-year-old man set himself on fire around 5.30pm local time in Meruma town, Ngaba County in eastern Tibet, on March 7, 2018," Sources told the TPI, added that "he died at the scene, but the whereabouts of his body is unknown."

Tsekho belonged to village no. 4 of Meruma town, Ngaba County and was survived by his wife and two daughters. Local sources also said that he was known for his strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism with great interest in the cause of Tibet.

It is the first self-immolation of 2018, nine years on from the first self-immolation in Tibet of Kirti monk Tapey in February, 2009. The last protest which occurred in December 2017 involved a man called Konpe who also from Meruma Township.

His protest occurred in the run up to the anniversary of Tibetan national Uprising Day, one of the most significant dates of the year for the people of Tibet. On March 10, in 1959, Tibetans from across the social spectrum rose up to stage a defiant yet peaceful uprising against the illegal occupation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China.

The latest self-immolation by Tsekho brought the total verified number of self-immolations inside Tibet to 152. Of these, 128 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 Tibetan people and while many of the self-immolators called out for independence for Tibet.

The Chinese Communist (PRC( regime began their invasion of Tibet in 1949 with total occupation of the country occurring 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.