A Tibetan monk was shot in eastern Tibet on February 27 after setting himself on fire protesting the Chinese regime’s banning of a religious ceremony, reports say. The monk, named Tape, 24, was set himself on fire outside the police station, said Kelsang Gyaltsen, member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile. The incident occurred in the Tibetan-populated town of Aba shortly after 1,000 monks were stopped by police from entering Kirti monastery’s main prayer hall for Tibetan New Year prayers.
“After the Chinese authorities issued an order to ban the prayer ceremony, at around 1:00 p.m. on January 3 of the Tibetan calendar, Tape set himself on fire in front of a police station. He was carrying a Tibetan flag with the Dalai Lama’s picture. He was shouting slogans, although no one understood what he was shouting. He ran out with fire all over his body,” Gyaltsen told The Epoch Times.
Eyewitness reports indicate the Chinese police fired three shots at monk Tape after he set himself on fire and at least one of the bullets made contact, the activist group said. His body was removed almost immediately and it is unclear whether he survived the incident.
A Tibetan monk, Tsjang, from Kirti monastery told an Epoch Times reporter through an interpreter, “The way the Chinese police shot a man who set himself on fire is beyond everyone’s imagination.”
“The man had already set himself on fire. He burned himself to protest, and the police still shot him. With something like this happening, one can imagine how harsh it is in the area.”
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Some witnesses believed that Tape was dead after police fired three shots that hit him. Witnesses also said after the shooting police extinguished the flame, put him in a police car, and drove away.
It remains unknown whether Tape is alive or not. However, about 500 monks from Kirti monastery went to his home and held a memorial service for him.
Tape had earlier told other monks that he would set himself on fire if the Chinese authorities banned the New Year celebration of traditional prayer festival called Monlam.
Sources said that the regime has turned Aba County into a special Military Surveillance Administration Zone.
Tsjang said that the way the regime killed one person to stop hundreds from following suit won’t bring real peace and stability in Tibet; instead, it will “provoke resentment and aversion from people, and will most likely lead to more similar incidents in the future.”
Tibetan parliament member, Gyaltsen, said, “For any trivial thing that happens in Tibet, the regime will basically resort to killing in order to cover up or destroy evidence. The regime will shoot without any hesitation and without any concern for the Tibetan people’s lives. It will resort to violence in order to suppress any slight protesting activities.”
Dechen Tsering, president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California.said China had flooded Tibet with troops and barred all foreigners. “Actions clearly meant to intimidate and suppress any further expressions of dissent during the New Year and in the lead up to March 10, which will mark 50 years of Tibetan resistance to Chinese occupation. We fear Chinese authorities are preparing for a renewed assault against Tibetans who dare to speak out for their basic rights.”
“There are many policemen on patrol in the street and all of them have guns,” an employee at a teahouse in Aba told the AFP news agency.
According to activist groups, dozens of Tibetans from Aba and the surrounding area were killed last year, and many more disappeared and were imprisoned, when protests swept across Tibet. Following the protests, the monks of Kirti monastery were the targets of some of the most extreme torture, abuse, and intimidation by Chinese authorities.
Tibet’s government-in-exile says 200 Tibetans have been killed since the Chinese regime’s crackdown last year. Chinese officials have denied this, reporting that Tibetan “rioters” killed 21 police.
Last fall, the Dalai Lama’s efforts to gain autonomy for the Tibetan region were stymied by the Chinese regime, which instead has renewed a “Strike Hard” Campaign in the region in anticipation of unrest in March.
The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has lived in exile for around 48 years. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, ninety percent of the temples were damaged in Tibet.