Conflict & Justice

Second Tibetan monk burns himself alive


A Tibetan Buddhist monk walks on the Potala Palace square on June 19, 2009 in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.


Feng Li

Tsewang Norbu, known as Norko, is reported to have drunk gasoline before pouring some on the rest of his body, and lighting himself on fire.

He is the second monk to have self-immolated in last six months in southwestern China's Sichuan province, protesting the worsening conditions for ethnic Tibetans there.

After the first monk burned himself alive on March 16, China clamped down. And repression worsened further when Tibetans in Tawu, where 29-year-old Norko died, defied a government ban on celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday on July 6.

Many fear the Chinese government will respond to the perceived rise in tensions with a strong hand.

More from GlobalPost: Tibet's new prime minister has never been to Tibet.

According to the activist website, Free Tibet, phone lines have been cut and internet cafes closed in Tawu, and the Chinese army is reported to have surrounded the monastery, where Norko died.

Following the death of the first monk, the Chinese regime deployed troops onto the streets of Ngaba, where he died. Activists say they forcibly removed hundreds of monks, imposed curfews, undertook house searches and detained and sentenced scores of Tibetans.

The military checkpoints in Ngaba remain six months later, and many worry a similar scene will transpire in Tawu.

China's state media reported the death of the monk, but used the Chinese name for Tawu (Daofu), and said it was unclear why he had self-immolated.

But Norko made it clear, according to Free Tibets, calling out three irrefutable slogans as he burned alive:

“We Tibetan people want freedom,” “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Let the Dalai Lama Return to Tibet.”