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China pressuring family to change Tibet self-immolator’s story

(TibetanReview.net, Apr25, 2014) – Chinese authorities in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) County of Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, have been harassing the family of a Tibetan man who had self-immolated on Apr 15, demanding that they issue a denial that the suicide action was in protest against Chinese rule. Chinese police had also been seeking the identity of the monks who had cared for the deceased protester’s scorched remains, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Apr 23.

The report said the mother and the elder brother of Thinley Namgyal, 32, who had torched himself in Khangsar Township, were summoned to the county offices and ordered to attribute a non-political reason for the self-immolation. Both refused, despite being offered money to go along with a story fabricated by the local authorities.

The police were also reported to have questioned the family’s neighbours in an attempt to identity the monks who had taken care of Thinley Namgyal’s body after he had carried out the self-immolation protest. China has made it a criminal offence, attracting even homicide charges, for people who care or pray or otherwise condole for fellow-Tibetan self-immolators, or to send out information about such protests. Many have been given jail sentences of up to 15 years.

Monks of the local Gongthal Monastery and their families were also questioned, as was the monastery’s senior monk, Tulku Jigme Tenzin, by country officials. Gongthal was the monastery where prayer services were held for the self-immolator before his body was moved to his family’s home. The family cremated it on Apr 17, pressured by the Chinese to “get rid of the body as quickly as possible.”

The senior monk was let off with a warning to be “more careful” in future. Also, the self-immolator’s relative named Rikchung whom the Chinese police had detained on suspicion that he was responsible for all the gruesome photos of the self-immolation which appeared on overseas websites, was reported released.

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