The first known Tibetan in Tibet to have self-immolated and was feared dead after Chinese security personnel fired shots at him is now believed to be detained in a Chinese army hospital, almost three years after the incidence.
Beijing based Tibetan blogger Tsering Woeser this week said that Tabey, a Tibetan monk from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba eastern Tibet is alive but both of his legs have been rendered useless after suffering bullet shots.
On February 27, 2009, Tabey, with gasoline spilled over his body, set himself on fire at the main road of Ngaba town. Bystanders said he held high a picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he chanted slogans. Tabey’s self-immolation, locals later said, was linked to the Chinese government’s restrictions on holding the annual great prayer festival (Monlam Chenmo). Around a thousand monks had reportedly gathered at Kirti monastery earlier that day demanding they be allowed to hold the great prayer festival.
Minutes after the monk set himself on fire, Chinese armed police arrived at the scene and shot at his feet to stop the monk from marching around.
Locals who witnessed the immolation had told reporters that the monk immediately fell down on the ground after the shots and was taken in a Chinese police van. Since then his whereabouts had remained unknown.
However, the popular Tibetan blogger wrote on her blog this week that the monk is being held in a Chinese military hospital in Barkham area.
“Both of his feet have become useless and even his arm has become next to numb,” the Tibetan blogger wrote.
“Scars of the gunshot on his feet are clearly visible,” the blogger added.
Tabey’s mother is said to be nursing the monk in the hospital but, apparently, she is forbidden from leaving the hospital or talking to outsiders. His uncle is believed to the only outside visitor allowed to visit him.
Since Tabey’s self-immolation in 2009, thirteen Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.