Tenzin Choedron

18-year old Tibetan nun Tenzin Choedron who died after self-immolation on February 11, 2012.

The 18-year old Tibetan nun Tenzin Choedron who set fire to herself yesterday has died, according to Tibetans in exile. Tenzin Choedron set fire to herself yesterday (February 11) near her nunnery, Mame Dechen Chokorling in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), the site of an earlier self-immolation by 20-year old fellow nun Tenzin Wangmo on October 17 last year.

Tenzin Choedron set herself on fire early in the evening on February 11, shouting slogans against the Chinese government, according to monks from Kirti monastery in exile (sister monastery to Kirti in Ngaba). She chose the same place as nun Tenzin Wangmo, the Sumdo bridge area below the nunnery, which is around three kilometers from Ngaba county town (ICT report, Tibetan nun dies following self-immolation protest). Tenzin Choedron did not die immediately, but was taken away by soldiers and police. According to new information today, she died soon afterwards and her funeral ceremony is being arranged.

The Kirti monks in exile said: “As a child Tenzin Choedron went to primary school in Cha township for three years, and after that became a nun at Mame nunnery. There are 12 members in her family, and she is the eldest of four brothers and sisters. She spoke little, followed the rules, studied hard, and got excellent grades, so she was smart as well as brave.”

Mame nunnery is the largest nunnery in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province (Tibetan region of Amdo) with around 350 nuns. The two self-immolations by Mame nuns follow a protest march in 2008 by nuns there, carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama, after which many were detained. The nunnery is said to have been sealed off by troops today.

The self-immolation is the third by a Tibetan nun since Tenzin Wangmo from Mame self-immolated. On November 3 2011 a Tibetan nun called Palden Choetso set fire to herself in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, the Tibetan area of Kham. The state news agency Xinhua confirmed the self-immolation and reported that the nun died after setting herself on fire at about 12:50 p.m. near her nunnery in Tawu (also known as Dawu, Chinese: Daofu) county in Kardze. (ICT report, Tibetan nun self-immolates in Kardze: continued resistance despite Chinese crackdown).

Tenzin Choedron is the 20th confirmed self-immolation since February 2009 in Tibet. (ICT, Self-immolation fact sheet). On February 9, monk from Lab monatery Sonam Rabyang set fire to himself in the town of Triwang in Tridu county, Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai. It is thought that he survived, but his current whereabouts is unknown.

Analysis by Bhuchung Tsering article in Himal: Man on Fire