Exiled Tibetans have released amateur video that they say shows the failed suicide bid of a Tibetan monk in southwest China last month.
The monk is one of at least 10 Tibetans in their late teens and 20s who have set themselves on fire since March to protest China’s rule over Tibet, with five or more of them dying from their injuries. The man in the video is believed to have survived.
The individuals who shared the video did so on condition of anonymity for fear the videographer and those who helped get the video out of China could be punished by the Chinese government.
They said the man in the video is Lobsang Konchok, a teenage monk who tried to set himself on fire on Sept. 26 at Kirti Monastery in Sichuan Province’s Aba Prefecture, where tensions between monks and the authorities have been high for months.
The shaky 34-second video, which was released yesterday by the Associated Press, shows a partially clothed man lying face down on a street, his feet and lower calves black and smoking. A woman screaming in Tibetan can be heard in the background and a police car and several uniformed People’s Armed Police officers are visible behind the man. One of the officers approaches the camera at the end of the video and says “No filming” in Chinese.
Chinese state media confirmed at the time that Lobsang and a second monk both tried to self-immolate, but were rescued by police after suffering superficial burns and were in a stable condition after the incident.
Aba has been the scene of numerous protests over the past several years against the Chinese government. Most are led by monks who are fiercely loyal to Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive anti-Beijing uprising and is reviled by the Chinese Communist Party.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the immolations and accused the Dalai Lama’s supporters of encouraging them. Last week, ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) called such alleged support “violence and terrorism in disguise.”
Thupten Samphal, spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile, denied on Saturday that the Dalai Lama had encouraged Tibetans to burn themselves,and said the spiritual leader considers suicide a form of violence.
“What the Tibetans in Tibet are trying to do by burning themselves is to try to attempt to draw international attention to the really grim situation in Tibet,” he said. “There has been increased repression in all the monasteries in Tibet.”
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