Tibetan Man, 81, Dies Of Self-Immolation Protest Against Chinese Government

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is deeply grieved to learn about the death of Mr. Tashi Phuntsok, who set himself on fire to protest the repressive policies enforced by the Chinese government in  Tibet.

#Taphun, as he is known to friends and family, self-immolated at around 5 am local time on 27 March in front of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) County, Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo.

The PSB office, located just outside the monastic compound, had been built before 2008 to keep a watch on the monastery.

A reliable source informed TCHRD that moments after the self-immolation, Chinese police took Taphun away to an undisclosed location where he died later.

It cannot be confirmed immediately if Taphun’s family members were given custody of his remains due to extreme restrictions on all modes of communication in Tibet and especially so after the latest self-immolation.

March is considered a ‘politically sensitive’ month by Chinese authorities because of the 10 March anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day that led to the exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans in 1959. The annual sessions of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) are also held in the same month, leading to heightened restrictions in all parts of Tibet.

“Chinese authorities have always imposed severe restrictions in the month of March, such as arbitrary search, interrogation and restriction of movement. This month also, the authorities imposed extraordinary restrictions causing immense suffering and resentment among local Tibetans, and [Taphun’s self-immolation] made this oppressive situation evident,” the source said.

“Taphun was a true patriot and held great concerns about the future of Tibet, which became clear during his 80th birthday celebration last year when he told the gathering, “Since the sun of happiness will certainly shine over Tibet with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, young [Tibetans] should not lose heart!”

Taphun belonged to the Phurtsa Tsang family in the nomadic camp no. 3 of Meruma Town in Ngaba County.

TCHRD calls on the Chinese authorities to allow Taphun’s family members to get immediate custody of his remains so that they can conduct proper funeral rites. Taphun’s family and friends must not be subjected to arbitrary detention and interrogation to obtain false confessions in an attempt to distort the real reasons behind the self-immolation. Rather than resorting to short-term face-saving measures by sullying the character and reputation of self-immolators, Chinese authorities must address the root cause of Tibetan resistance: the oppression of Tibetan people for more than seven decades since the illegal invasion of Tibet in 1949.

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