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Tibetan School Girl Dies in Self-Immolation Protest

A 19-year-old Tibetan student died after setting fire to herself Saturday in Machu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. A source from inside Tibet told Voice of America that Tsering Kyi was a good student and that her family was from Menma, a town within the same county.

Nineteen-year old Tibetan student Tsering Kyi died after setting fire to herself, March 5, 2012
Nineteen-year old Tibetan student Tsering Kyi died after setting fire to herself, March 5, 2012

Tsering Kyi was known to have gone to the town around 3 pm after buying petrol in the market. She used a public toilet to douse herself and walked out in a Chinese run vegetable market engulfed in flames, according to the same source.

Reports say she was forced back into the toilet. It is unclear whether she was forced back into the toilet by Chinese vegetable vendors or the police, but it appears that she died there. Security police are reported to have taken her body and as of this writing, they have not returned Tsering’s body to her family.

The UK based advocacy group Free Tibet reports that a few days before the incidence, Tsering Kyi had said, “in Ngaba and other areas of Tibet, Tibetans are burning themselves. We should do something - life is meaningless if we don’t do something for Tibet.”

The India-based Tibetan parliament-in-exile, released a statement that said Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene of the protest and locked down the market. “All mobile phones were confiscated in an attempt the stop the news of the protest from spreading,” the release said. “People at the scene of the protest were issued strict orders against speaking about the self-immolation.”

Dolkar Kyap, a former political prisoner in Tibet, now living in India said that Tsering Kyi is from a family of nomadic farmers and that she had one elder sister. Kyap told VOA that following the immolation, an emergency county meeting was convened where it was agreed to propagate the cause of the self- immolation as being a personal matter related to a love interest. The meeting also agreed to keep the market and schools closed on Monday.

Since 2009, 25 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet. Heightened clampdowns and reports of arbitrary beatings and detentions in all Tibetan regions across the Tibetan plateau have been occurring for several weeks, possibly in an attempt to preempt any protests as March 10 approaches, the sensitive anniversary of the Tibetan uprisings of 2008 and 1959.