Choephel, the 19-year old former monk of Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, succumbed to his injuries in a Chinese government hospital in Barkham area at around 2 pm local time yesterday.
Choephel along with Khaying had set themselves ablaze in the central town of Ngaba, eastern Tibet on October 7, protesting China’s repressive policies and continued occupation of Tibet. Khaying attained martyrdom in the same hospital a day before on October 10.
With hands joined in prayers, both of them had called for Tibetans to unite and rise up against the Chinese regime and raised slogans for Tibet’s freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. Eyewitnesses told sources in exile that Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene and indiscriminately beat the two while dousing the fire.
Leading up to his self-immolation, Choephel had reportedly told his colleagues that the “current atmosphere of repression was unbearable”.
According to the exile base of Kirti Monastery in Dharamshala, Chinese authorities have refused to hand over possession of the deceased’s body to his family.
“Choephel’s family has been ordered to limit the number of monks performing the customary last rite prayers at their home to five,” the monastery said in a release.
“Similar to the earlier instances of Phuntsog’s death in March and Khaying’s passing away, the Chinese authorities have issued strict orders to Ngaba public against mourning Choephel’s death or expressing condolences to the deceased’s family,” the release said.
The local Tibetans in the 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.
Since March this year, seven Tibetans have been forced to commit the ultimate sacrifice of torching their bodies as a last resort of peaceful action against the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet.
Lobsang Phuntsog, Tsewang Norbu, Khaying, and Choephel have all succumbed to their injuries while Kesang Wangchuk, Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Kunchok are still in critical condition.