There’s been a fifteenth self-immolation now, with this one being the first to take place in Qinghai province:
Hundreds of angry Tibetans forced Chinese authorities on Sunday to return the body of a monk who self-immolated, parading the corpse in the streets in China’s western Qinghai province, witnesses said.
Sopa, a respected 42-year-old monk, set himself on fire and died in front of the police station of Darlag (in Chinese, Dari) county in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after shouting slogans calling for Tibet’s freedom and the long life of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, they said.
Sopa, who ran a home for the elderly and an orphanage in Darlag, was a Rinpoche, an honorific used in Tibetan Buddhism for lamas and other high-ranking or respected teachers. He is believed to be the most senior monk to have self-immolated so far.
Before setting himself ablaze, he climbed a local hill, burned incense, prayed, and then distributed several leaflets in which he wrote that he was performing the deadly act “not for his personal glory but for Tibet and the happiness of Tibetans,” a source from inside Tibet told RFA.
Several hundred Tibetans marched to the police station to demand his remains, and when their request was denied, “the protesters smashed windows and doors of the local police station,” another source said.
When the police finally relented and handed over Sopa’s remains, the protesters paraded the body in the streets, sources said.
“Only the head and chest parts [of the body] are intact, the rest were in pieces when Tibetans received the remains from the police,” a third source said.
Chinese authorities tightened security in Darlag, deploying additional security forces from the main town of Golog, as posters praising Sopa’s act and calling for a boycott of Chinese goods appeared in the county.
“Sopa Rinpoche has done this act for the freedom and peace of Tibet,” one poster said.
Sources said Tibetans planned to organized a large prayer session comprising about 2,000 people at Sopa’s monastery.
“Now it’s difficult to reach the Darlag area by phone,” a source said.
If Chinese authorities know their history, they should be careful not to strike down too harshly on the area- don’t mess with the Goloks, as they used to say.