Fire continues to burn in Tibet: A teenage nun self-immolates

Tenzin Choedron, 18, a nun from the Mamae nunnery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, set her body on fire protesting the Chinese governemnt on February 11, 2012.

DHARAMSHALA, February 11: In confirmed reports coming out of Tibet, a teenage Tibetan nun set her body on fire raising slogans against the Chinese government in Ngaba, eastern Tibet today.

The exile base of Kirti monastery in Dharamshala, in a release today identified the nun as Tenzin Choedron, 18, from the Mamae Dechen Choekhorling nunnery.

“At 6 pm on February 11, Tenzin Choedron, age 18, a nun at the Mamae nunnery in Ngaba, set herself on fire while shouting slogans of protest against the Chinese government,” the release said.

Eyewitnesses have told sources in exile that Tenzin Choedron did not die on the spot and was immediately taken away by Chinese security personnel towards Barkham region.

Following the self-immolation, Chinese armed forces surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off. At the time of reporting, no further information is available.

Born to Lopay and Tsepo, Tenzin Choedron is the eldest of her four siblings.

On October 17 last year, nun Tenzin Wangmo, around 20 years of age, from Mamae nunnery had set herself on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Tenzin Wangmo passed away immediately.

The Dechen Choekorling nunnery, located at a distance of around 3 kms from Ngaba town is the largest nunnery in the region with more than 350 nuns.

During the pan-Tibet uprisings of 2008, the Mamae nuns staged a protest march, carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama, following which many nuns were arrested and detained.

The entire Ngaba region, which alone has witnessed 14 instances of self-immolations, continues to remain tense following the self-immolation of a 19-year old Tibetan Rigzin Droje on Febraury 8.

In Tibet, 22 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. Just this month, six self-immolations have already occurred.

Many parts of Tibet remain cut off from outside world with a prevailing situation of undeclared martial law following mass protests in recent weeks in which at least a dozen Tibetans are feared dead in police firings. 

The Tibetan exile leadership and rights groups have expressed fear of further bloodshed and self-immolations in Tibet.

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