More than two months after two young Tibetans set their bodies on fire demanding an end to China’s continued occupation of Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile, their photos have finally made its way outside Tibet.
The Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) yesterday released undated photos of Choephel aged 19 and Khayang aged 18, both former monks of Ngaba Kirti Monastery in eastern Tibet.
On October 7, at around 11.30 am Tibet time, Choephel and Khayang had set themselves ablaze in the central town of Ngaba district. Eyewitnesses had told sources in exile that Choephel and Khayang, with their bodies engulfed in flames and hands joined in prayers, called for Tibetans to unite and rise up against the Chinese regime while raising slogans for Tibet’s freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama.
Both Khayang and Choephel succumbed to their injuries days later in a Chinese government hospital in Barkham area.
In his last moments, Khayang reportedly told his attendants in the hospital that he felt gratified with his act of self immolation for the cause of Tibet and felt no regret whatsoever.
“Please don’t feel sad for me,” were his last words.
The Chinese authorities had declined to hand over Khayang’s body to his family and instead cremated the deceased at an undisclosed location in Barkham area. Family acquaintances and the general public were warned against expressing their condolences to Khayang’s family.
The same day Khayang passed away, China’s official news agency, Xinhua, in a report had said that Choephel and Khaying were out of danger and that the burn injuries they had sustained were not life-threatening.
Leading up to his self-immolation, Choephel had reportedly told his colleagues that the “current atmosphere of repression was unbearable”.
Chinese authorities had refused to hand over possession of Choephel’s body to his family and issued strict orders to Ngaba public against mourning his death or expressing condolences to the deceased’s family.
Local Tibetans in Ngaba district, going against the orders, had for three days closed down all businesses as a mark of respect and to show solidarity with the self-immolating Tibetans and their families from October 8 – 10.