Popular Tibetan singer Tsewang Norbu died in the People’s Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region (Chinese: Xīzàng zìzhìqū rénmín yīyuàn, 西藏自治区人民医院) in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa in the first weekend of March 2022, reliable sources have informed the International Campaign for Tibet.

One source confirmed that the singer was extremely burned and died in the hospital, which is located nearby to the east of Potala Palace and close to the headquarters of Tibet Daily, a Chinese state media news outlet. The singer was earlier reported to have self-immolated on Feb. 25 at the Barpokaling Stupa in front of the Potala Palace’s far right corner.

Apparently, to ensure that Tsewang’s death is not leaked to the outside world, security is beefed up in the hospital as well as throughout Lhasa, residents of the city have been placed under tight control. Security officers from the local police station, the Domestic Security Bureau (Guónèi ān quán bǎo wēi jū 国内安全保卫局), the department of the Ministry of Public Security responsible for dealing with dissidents and activists, and a large contingent of security in plain clothes have been deployed heavily inside the hospital. The patients, medical professionals and hospital staff are reportedly anxious at the heavy deployment of security in the hospital.

Our sources were not able to learn how Chinese authorities handled the body of Tsewang Norbu. Judging by the current security measures to conceal his death and past state practices toward Tibetan political activists, it is likely that his body was not returned to his family and instead secretly cremated.

Since the West Mountain (Xishan) funeral home (located in Dachang (Dajiang) Village, Yabda (Yangda) Township in Toelung Dechen county) in the outskirts of Lhasa, is the only cremation place in and around Lhasa, it is most likely that Tsewang’s body was cremated there. Xishan funeral home, administered by the TAR Department of Civil Affairs, has been operational since the early 2000s as a funeral home primarily for Chinese officials and migrants living in Lhasa. Tibetans per tradition practice sky burials instead of cremation.

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