A Tibetan mother of five has died following a self-immolation protest in Tibet. The protest came shortly after Chinese authorities forcibly demolished a nearby property belonging to a Tibetan. It has not been confirmed if the self-immolation was linked to the demolition. However, the authorities have since confiscated the self-immolator’s body.
On the evening of 27 August, Tashi Kyi (pictured right), aged 55, set herself ablaze, before dying at around 3 am local time the following morning. The self-immolation took place in Ngura Village, Sangchu (or Labrang, Chinese: Xiahe) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China’s Gansu province).
Tashi Kyi’s body was seized by Chinese officials, denying her family the ability to perform traditional funeral rites.
Though the exact reason for the self-immolation protest is not yet clear, it is known it came shortly after Chinese officials arrived in Ngura village to evict one of her neighbours and demolish their property. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), the village is a “new socialist village”, i.e. consisting of identical concrete houses specifically built by the Chinese government for the resettlement of Tibetan nomads.
Voice of America (VOA) reported that on 27 August, “150 officials and security personnel arrived in Ngura village to claim rights on one of their houses, and destroyed its properties for official use. When Tibetans in the neighbourhood protested the unfair procedure, the owner of the property was arrested and severely beaten.” It is possible that this could have been a motivating factor in Tashi Kyi’s protest.
Tashi Kyi’s nephew, who now lives in exile, told TCHRD that his aunt was known locally as a “courageous woman”, describing her as “kind-hearted and pious, who held firm faith and conviction in accumulating virtues”. She was said to have studied the Tibetan language and had twice travelled to India to receive teachings and blessings from the Dalai Lama.
Tashi Kyi is the seventh Tibetan to self-immolate this year in Tibet, and brings the overall total of self-immolators in Tibet since 2009 to 142.