Thousands Gather for Funeral of Self-Immolation Victim
Following large-scale protests in Tongren, Qinghai in response to the self-immolation of a Tibetan monk last week, the funeral of a farmer who self-immolated Saturday turned into a gathering of thousands of Tibetans, AP reports:
U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia said in an emailed statement that Sonam Thargyal, a 44-year-old farmer and father of four, fastened cotton padding to his body with iron wire and doused himself with kerosene before setting himself on fire Saturday in Tongren, a monastery town in western China’s Qinghai province. He also drank kerosene, the broadcaster said.
“The Tibetans who were at the scene attempted to put out the flames, but death was very fast because of the kerosene inside and outside the body,” RFA quoted Dorjee Wangchuk, a Tibetan exiled in Dharamsala, India, with close ties to the Tongren community, as saying.
Thargyal called out for an end to Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas, the return of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan language rights, RFA said.
As many as 7,000 Tibetans took part in Thargyal’s funeral and cremation ceremony, the broadcaster said.
An earlier report from the Financial Times (via CDT) had said that relations between Tibetans and Han authorities in Qinghai were more peaceful than those in Sichuan, where most of the self-immolations have been occurring. Dozens of Tibetans, both monks and lay people, have self-immolated in the past three years, with cases increasingly in frequency in recent months.