Tibetan monk self-immolates to protest China

Free Tibet reports: "A 29-year-old monk, Tsewang Norbu, also known as Norko, set himself on fire on the Chume Bridge in the centre of Tawu, Kandze Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province at 12:30 pm [Monday, Tibet local time]. Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, sprayed himself with petrol and then set himself on fire. He was heard calling out: 'We Tibetan people want freedom,' 'Long live the Dalai Lama' and 'Let the Dalai Lama Return to Tibet.' He is believed to have died at the scene." Phayul, VOA, Reuters, NYT.

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  1. This is always horrid. 

    I wish there was an antithesis to this but sitting in a bath until you’re dangerously pruny rarely makes the news.

  2. @Timothy, one of my parents’ college professors had a heart attack and died in the bathtub while on sabbatical. When her neighbors finally called the cops to investigate the stench, the coroner had to shovel her liquified earthly remains out of the tub.

    1. Interesting so far as it goes, but I’m having a hard time grokking that someone hit the “like” button on it. Given the context, “like” is a strange verb.

      I think Disqus needs a “I could have happily gone to me grave not knowing this” button.

  3. ” Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, sprayed himself with petrol and then set himself on fire.”

    Drank petrol? DRANK some? Wow.I guess he wanted his stomach to blow up when the flames got it it?  I suppose that is one way to go out with a bang!

  4. What a Rookie move…any self aware monk knows you need a video of the event for that YouTube moment as well as a press release.   Sheesh will they ever learn that if it isn’t broadcast it didn’t happen.   

    1. I do wonder if there is video or photographs – no one in China is going to find out this happened without them. Even with them it would be difficult, of course, but it would get spread around like these things tend to do.

      I mean, for most people I suspect the only reason the idea of a monk self-immolating is so powerful is because of the famous photographs we’ve all seen. What’s the point if the Chinese government can just cover it up and deny it?

    2. Serf, I was just going to post how efficient this monk was; until I read your comment.
      “What a Rookie move…”

      When I read that Tsewang drank the petrol too, I thought, “this is no lame attempt to get attention.  No, this is a committed individual.”  But thank you for setting me straight.  Tsewang wasn’t as prepared as I first thought.  You’re absolutely right, he left the job half done.

  5. This has about as much sense behind it as a suicide bombing.  Sure it causes less injury, but seems more narcissistic. 

  6. Ah, yes, the old Invoke-sympathy-with-self-inflicted-horrific-wounds-move.
    As the commenters above so clearly illustrate, that move hardly ever
    works any more. So it’s kinda strange that the chinese in particular keep
    returning to it.

    The last time we had a slew of these events in the news must have been
    when the Falun Gong cult enticed a few of their more disposable members
    to set themself ablaze in Tienamen Square. I remember those because when
    the Falun Gong leaders realized that the world’s reaction for the most
    part was “Dude, that’s just gross, why on earth would you order her to
    do something like that?”
    the cult promptly did a 180° turn, withdrew
    all their earlier press releases and instead tried to spin it all as a
    “gouvernment conspiracy” wherein the chinese secret police were supposed
    to have had arranged the suicides and have the dead spies masqurade as
    Falun Gong’ers in order to make it look like.. um.. something or other.

    1. Ah, yes, the old Invoke-sympathy-with-self-inflicted-horrific-wounds-move. As the commenters above so clearly illustrate, that move hardly ever
      works any more.

      Tell that to Mohamed Bouazizi.

    2. It’s hardcore, especially to sit and hold full lotus while burning to death.  It’s more like saying “this is less than the torment we’re already experiencing” or “I will show you my resolve” or even “to draw attention to my people/cause etc with my death is a more important use of my life than anything else I can do”.

  7. As the suicide of a monk at Kirti Monastery this spring indicates, these acts can and do have profound political impact in Tibet. The Kirti story has been the major story from Tibet all year, and Tibetans will immediately recognize the present event as being linked to the Kirti story. So, it is easy to comment “how boring and dated” but this is in fact a serious action with real consequences.

  8. Man – they sure know how to stage a protest. I mean – a man burning alive is simply not something you can forget or ignore. (Note one of the more iconic images that also graced the RAtM album.) I can’t imagine the fortitude it would require to die in this way on purpose. The conviction is astounding.

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