Tibetan self-immolator dies of burn injuries, family questioned

Ngawang Norphel, a lay Tibetan who self-immolated on 20 June 2012 passed away on 1 August 2012, more than one month after setting himself on fire, and his family is now being threatened and investigated by the Chinese authorities in Tibet.

“Ngawang Norphel died in a Chinese hospital in Amdo Ngaba (Ch: Aba) region of Tibet day before yesterday,” Tenzin Phegyel, who lives in exile in Dharamsala and is the uncle of deceased Norphel told TCHRD today. Phegyel said that Norphel’s father forcibly taken by Chinese security officers to the hospital where Norphel was admitted amidst tight security.

In protest against the Chinese government on 20 June 2012, Ngawang Norphel, 21 along with Tenzin Khedup, 24, had set themselves on ablaze in Zatoe (Chinese: Zaduo) County of Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the Tibetan province of Kham in present-day Qinghai Province.

Khedup died shortly after the fiery protest, and in earlier reports, Norphel was said to be from Amdo province, but according to his uncle, his entire family hail from Nyelam (Chinese: Niala) region of Shigatse (Chinese: Xigaze) Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region.

“Norphel’s whole family in Nyelam region in Shigatse got investigated and threatened by the Chinese officials, and finally they (police) took Norphel’s father Lhakpa Dhondup to the Chinese hospital in Amdo. So his father was at the hospital when Norphel passed away,” Tenzin said, adding he feared his phone conversations with Lhakpa might put him in trouble.

I am so afraid that our telephonic conversation might have been tapped by the Chinese officials, Phegyel said.

Besides local police investigating Norphel’s family in Nyelam, Norphel’s father is also being accompanied by the Chinese police and investigated for hours.

“Even though Norphel has already died, his father is still being investigated in Amdo Ngaba, and Lhakpa said he is likely to be allowed to go back to Nyelam tomorrow [2 August 2012],” Tenzin Norphel said.

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