Drubchog (name earlier reported as Tsering Phuntsok), set himself on fire protesting Chinese rule on January 18 in Khyungchu region of eastern Tibet. He passed away at the site of his protest following which Chinese security personnel bundled him away to nearby town of Barkham.
Sonam, a Tibetan based in Swiss, told Phayul that Chinese authorities cremated him later that day without informing any of his immediate family members.
In more detailed reports that have come in, it now appears that Drubchog self-immolated near a basketball ground in Drachen town in Khyungchu region. The ground and the adjoining roads are usually frequented by a number of people.
“Before setting himself on fire, Drubchog said ‘Gyalwang Tenzin Gyatso’ (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) with his hands joined together in prayer,” Sonam said citing sources in the region.
In a photo received by Phayul, Drubchog can be seen sitting upright on the ground while his torso is engulfed in flames.
Following the self-immolation protest, heavily armed Chinese security forces arrived in Drachen town and surrounded the entire region, the same source said. Local Tibetans are currently reeling under a “tense atmosphere of fear and anxiety.”
According to the exile base of Kirti Monastery in Dharamshala, Drubchog, 28, is survived by his two young daughters, aged five and three, and his wife Rigpa, who is reportedly with child.
Since 2009, as many as 97 known Tibetans have set themselves on fire inside Tibet, in protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet and demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama.
Chinese authorities continue to blame exile Tibetans for the protests and have implemented a series of measures which have further aggravated the situation. The criminalisation of self-immolations and arbitrary arrests of several Tibetans for sending out information on the protests have been condemned by rights groups.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in its annual rights report said crackdown on self-immolation protests continued all through 2012 with local Chinese authorities mobilising government cadres and ‘work teams’ to hold political education campaigns and carry out punitive measures against not only self-immolators and their family members but also the villages they belong to.
The group further noted that Tibet remained closed to independent media, UN monitors, international fact-finding delegations or visitors, even as the Chinese government “effectively blocked communication channels and prevented information about human rights abuses from going out of Tibet.”