A woman identified as Rikyo, said to be 33 years old and the mother of three young children, burned herself to death today in what is believed to have been another desperate act of protest against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. According to the Tibetan pro-sovereignty website Phayul, she set herself on fire near the Jonang Zamthang Gonchen monastery in Zamthang county, in Ngaba region, the epicenter of a continuing wave of Tibetan self-immolations.
Rikyo’s body is currently being kept at the Jonang Monastery, although Chinese security personnel have reportedly demanded the body to be removed. Rikyo is survived by her husband and three children, the eldest, a 9-year old son and two daughters aged 7 and 5.
Just three days ago, two ethnic Tibetan men self-immolated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, at what is considered to be the ancient city's most important temple. Chinese police and firefighters arrived at Jokhang, extinguished flames, and removed the men. Their whereabouts and conditions are unknown.
One of the self-immolators was reportedly a 19 year old named Dorjee Tseten, originally from Amdo Bora, and the other young man is reportedly from Amdo Ngaba, although the source couldn’t confirm this information with absolute certainty. Both men had lived in Lhasa for some time and worked at a local restaurant named Nyima Ling.
The immediate and widespread security clampdown that followed included the cutting of telephone and internet connections, the inspection of all cameras and cell phones within a certain perimeter of where the immolations occurred, and numerous detentions yet to be fully confirmed. It is reported that the site of the immolations was immediately cleaned and that there were no traces of the event having taken place.
That incident occurred on the 6th day of Saga Dawa, the month-long annual celebration of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
Since February, 2009, 38 ethnic Tibetans are reported to have burned themselves alive, demanding cultural and religious freedom and the return of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile.