- Two Tibetan monks from Tsodun monastery set themselves on fire outside the prefectural government offices in Barkham, Ngaba.
- The number of Tibetan self-immolations of Tibetans in Ngaba is higher than anywhere else in Tibet – a total of 23 among the 33 self-immolations since February, 2009.
Two Tibetan monks in their early twenties (pictured below) from Tsodun monastery set themselves on fire today outside the prefectural government offices in Barkham (Chinese: Maerkang), Ngaba (Chinese: Aba).
According to Kirti monks in exile in Dharamsala, India, one of the monks died, but one may still be alive. Both 22-year old Tenpa Darjey and Chimey Palden, age 21, were taken to the government hospital. Following the incident, monks from Tsodun monastery, a branch of Kirti monastery, set out for Barkham in three vehicles, with the intention of claiming the body of one of the monks if dead, or taking care of the other monk if still alive. They were stopped around 30 kilometers away from the monastery by armed police and special forces, who sent them back to the monastery.
The area is now under lockdown by armed troops and no further information is known about the two monks’ survival or current whereabouts, according to the Kirti monks in exile.
Tenpa Darjey, aged 22, studied philosophy at Kirti monastery in Ngaba county, Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, from 2003-2009. He then returned to Tsodun where he was regarded as one of the best students in the logic and debating class. He was the youngest of four brothers and sisters.
Chimey Palden went to Kirti as a philosophy student in 2009, but stayed only a few months. In 2010, on a visit to Lhasa, he was searched by Public Security personnel, who found a photo of the Dalai Lama, a picture of the Tibetan national flag and a Tibetan song on his mobile phone. He was detained for more than a month.
Tsodun Kirti monastery (of the Gelugpa school) is just over 80 kilometers from Barkham, the prefectural capital, and it is also known as Ganden Tashi Choeling. There are at least 300 monks there.
The number of self-immolations of Tibetans in Ngaba is higher than anywhere else in Tibet – a total of 23 Tibetans from Ngaba have set fire to themselves since February, 2009, from a total number of 33 self-immolations in Tibet. Of this 23, 14 of the Tibetan self-immolators, including the first, Tapey, were monks or former monks from Kirti monastery (see ICT’s self-immolation fact sheet for more information). Kirti monastery, one of the most important and influential monasteries in Tibet, has been subject to heightened surveillance, police control, including military lockdown, the forced removal of monks, imposition of ‘patriotic education’ and other internal management strictures, in some form since at least March 16, 2008 when Chinese forces opened fire on unarmed Tibetan protesters in Ngaba town, and their bodies were brought to Kirti monastery.