A former Buddhist monk has died in eastern Tibet after setting himself on fire this week to protest China’s repressive rule, a spokesperson for the monastery told VOA Tibetan Service.
Yonten, a 24-year-old former monk at Kirti Monastery in Amdo Ngaba, in the western China province of Sichuan, carried out his self-immolation Tuesday in Meruma township, spokesperson Kanyag Tsering said.
He said China had imposed restrictions in the area, including cellphone use, slowing the gathering and dissemination of information about the incident.
“We have no further information on whether the body of the deceased has been handed over to the family or not since all channels are now blocked,” the monastery said in a statement.
There have been 156 self-immolations across Tibet over the past decade, 44 of which took place in Amdo Ngaba.
Once a monk, Yonten later disrobed and settled as a nomad. Meruma township has been the scene of multiple self-immolation protests, most recently in March 2018.
In a statement, Free Tibet communications manager John Jones said, “Yonten lived his life under occupation. In his 24 years, he would have seen Chinese police and military suppress protests in his homeland, seen his culture, language and religion come under attack, seen people he knew arrested and made to disappear. Tibetans today grow up in a world of injustice.”
China maintains it has worked to modernize Tibetan society since “liberating” Tibetans in 1950.