Another Tibetan monk dies after self-immolation


A Tibetan Buddhist monk walks on the Potala Palace square on June 19, 2009 in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Traditionally, Lhasa is the seat of the Dalai Lama, the capital of Tibet and is the highest capital in the world. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, in 1959.


Feng Li

Tenzin Phuntsog, a 46-year-old Tibetan and former monk, is reported to have died Dec. 6 from burns he suffered while self-immolating on Dec. 1, according to rights groups.

BBC reports that he died in Chamdo (called Chengdu in Chinese) hospital, located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

More from GlobalPost: Tibet is burning

Tenzin Phuntsog is the 12th monk or nun to have self-immolated this year in protest of China's grip on Tibet. Seven of the 12 have died.

He is the first, however, to have self-immolated in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Is the phenomenon spreading?

The majority of the 12 have self-immolated in or near Kirti monastery in neighboring Sichuan province, home to many ethnic Tibetans.

The story of these Tibetan Buddhists and the apparent psychological rupture that has occurred in their community, prompting a spate of self-immolations has just been named the year's most under-reported story by Time magazine.

Video: Outcry over Tibetan self-immolations (GRAPHIC)

As Prof Robbie Barnett told GlobalPost recently, Kirti has long been a center of Buddhist learning and is now currently the focal point of what appears to be an experiment by Chinese authorities in clamping down on Tibet monks.

They are using techniques [in Kirti] that had been used before only after major incidents, such as blockading a monastery, and cutting off food and water, sometimes for weeks, in response to a single-person protest.

More from GlobalPost: What can other countries do about Tibet?

While the worst of the crackdown appears to be centered around Kirti, the self-immolations — as this most recent case illustrates — appear to be spreading. Following a recent self-immolation in New Delhi by a member of the Tibetan exile community, GlobalPost's Jason Overdorf explained:

As nearly a dozen religious leaders inside Tibet have tried to burn themselves to death this autumn, an uncomfortable realization is beginning to strike home in the diaspora. There's a grim reason for the mounting tide of self-immolations in the homeland they may never see. Now, perhaps more than ever before, China is winning the battle for Tibet.

Chinese authorities have done little, in response to the self-immolations or otherwise, to indicate that they will be altering the majority of their policies in regard to Tibetan monks and nuns.