• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
10july2012-009Dharamshala: On July 7, 22-year-old Tsewang Dorjee set himself on fire in the main market of Damshung County, (Chinese: Dangxiong) about 160 kms from the capital, Lhasa in central Tibet. This tragic event in Tibet becomes the largest in the history of the self-immolation protests, said analysts.


The incident occurred at around 2pm (Tibetan Time). Tsewang managed to walk about 100 meters and shouted out slogans in support of Tibet. A Tibet Post International (TPI) source said he also called for the return of His Holiness from exile, before he fell to the ground.

A statement by the Tibetan Parliament said, "Barely three minutes into his protest, Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene, doused the flames and took him to a hospital (Dhamshung County Hospital)." However, the hospital was not equipped to treat him and so he was rushed to the Military Hospital in Lhasa city. TPI's source said that 90% of his body was burnt.

The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile's statement expressed a fear over his probable death. "No one was allowed to meet him after his protest. Reports suggest that Tsewang Dorjee passed away later that night."

The parliament noted that the entire Dhamshung region is currently reeling under a heavy lockdown and people who witnessed Tsewang Dorjee's self-immolation have since been arrested. The Chinese authorities have also passed strict orders barring anyone from speaking about the protest.

Lhasa city was cut off from all communication. Phone lines were not working and people in Lhasa could not reach contacts in Damshung County. Due to the intensified security measures and the ban on spreading of information, reports have only now confirmed that Tsewang passed away.

Ngawang Woebar, former President of the Tibetan Gu Chu Sum movement gave TPI details of the incident, saying Tsewang was from Dham Chu Kha village in U-Tsang region, that the names of his parents and siblings remain unknown and that he is survived by his elderly mother.

This is the longest string of self-immolations to occur in history. Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to protest against China's repressive policies, demand freedom in Tibet and call for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.

Since 27 February 2009, there have been confirmed reports of 45 self-immolations in all three traditional provinces of Tibet. Of these, 37 have been carried out by men and eight by women. 33 of the 45 are known to have died following their protests. 25 were from Ngaba, eastern Tibet, seven were monks at Kirti monastery in Ngaba, four were nuns, three were mothers and one was a schoolgirl. 44 of the self-immolations have occurred since 16 March 2011.