Accessibility links

Tibetan Schoolboy Who Set Himself Alight Dies

  • VOA News

FILE - Dorje Tsering, 16, who died from a cardiac after setting himself ablaze at a housing settlement for Tibetan refugees in northern India, seen at his high school in Dehradun, undated.

FILE - Dorje Tsering, 16, who died from a cardiac after setting himself ablaze at a housing settlement for Tibetan refugees in northern India, seen at his high school in Dehradun, undated.

A Tibetan schoolboy living in India has died four days after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese rule, according to hospital officials in New Delhi.

Dorje Tsering, 16, died from a cardiac arrest late on Thursday at the hospital where he was taken after setting himself ablaze at a housing settlement for Tibetan refugees in the northern city of Dehradun on Monday.

As he lay dying, his face disfigured by scarring and breathing with the aid of machines, a person at his bedside began recording footage of Tsering. In the unsourced video, translated by VOA's Tibetan Service, Tsering identifies himself as a student at Tibetan Homes school in Mussoorie.

"And what to say now," he says, momentarily trailing off, his eyelids nearly swollen shut. "On February 29, 2016, I set fire to my body like a vigil lamp. The reason why I set myself ablaze is, in 1959, the Chinese invaded Tibet. Because they took away Tibet , I have ardently always wanted to do something for Tibet since I was very small. Yesterday, I felt that things [in Tibet] were helpless unless I self-immolate myself… and, now, to explain what self-immolation can do is, people are shocked

"They say he burned himself… for his country," he continues in a halting voice muffled by an oxygen mask. "Now when they think like that, what can happen is England, USA, Africa, everywhere alike around the world, will pay attention to Tibet. When they pay attention, they will support Tibet and we, Tibetans, will get help.

"Lastly, victory to Tibet and May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live long for eons and eons," he says.

Hospital spokeswoman Poonam Dhanda told AFP that Tsering, who died around 9 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. UTC), was the eighth Tibetan to mount such a protest outside China.

His death came after an 18-year-old Tibetan monk in China self-immolated on Monday to protest Beijing's ironclad control of the Himalayan region.

VOA's sister-agency Radio Free Asia called the monk's protest the first of its kind in China this year, bring the total number in the country to 144.

Scores of Tibetans living in-exile in India's northern hill town of Dharamsala on Wednesday held a candlelight vigil in solidarity with both of the Tibetan activists. The exile Tibetan government issued a statement urging young people to find other constructive ways to express their feelings and work for Tibet.

The Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, a leading young Lama who is the head of a Tibetan Buddhist sect, also issued a statement calling upon Tibetans to stop sacrificing themselves in protest.

"Within Tibetan society, people will applaud them for a few days, saying 'He’s a hero,' 'She’s a heroine,' or 'That is incredible.' But that does not help," he said. "It is important to deeply consider the physical pain of those who set themselves on fire and the mental suffering of the relatives they leave behind, as well as whether this will help or harm Tibet, immediately, within a short while, or in the long term.

"The Tibetan land is vast, but the Tibetan people are few in number," he added. "Therefore it is critical that every individual Tibetan remain alive in order to preserve the land and people ... For the sake of our homeland’s future, to relieve the hardships of our people, we should treasure each single breath we take."

Produced in collaboration with VOA's Tibetan Service. Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG