Tibetan student self-immolates in India after shouting ‘freedom’

Twenty-year-old critically injured after he set himself on fire in the city of Varanasi

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 12:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 8:48am

A Tibetan student self-immolated in India after shouting “freedom”, injuring himself critically, Indian police said on Saturday.

The student set himself on fire on Friday at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.

Self-immolation has regularly been used as a protest against China’s actions in Tibet. But Indian police said they were also investigating the 20-year-old’s recent exam failures as being a possible cause for his actions.

Reports: Tibetan sets himself on fire in western China

“We are not entirely clear about the reasons but eyewitnesses told us that he shouted ‘freedom’ before running out, dousing himself with kerosene and setting himself on fire,” Varanasi police spokesman Sanjay Tripathi said.

“There were some Tibetan representatives at the institution at the time. But the institute authorities have also told us that they had announced exam results a day earlier and he had failed two exams.”

The International Campaign for Tibet identified the student as Tenzin Choeying. It quoted Chime Namgyal, head of the ­Tibetan Youth Congress activist group in Varanasi, as saying Choeying shouted “Victory to Tibet”.

Police said they were still investigating and will take statements from Choeying and his family. “The boy is recovering at the hospital. He can speak but has around 50 per cent burns,” Tripathi said.

China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many ­Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture.

China rejects the accusations and accuses the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, of inciting self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of the nation.

The Tibetan pilgrimage film that took on Transformers in China’s cinemas and broke a box office record

A young farmer self-immolated in southwest China in March, the first Tibetan to set themselves on fire this year. The Tibetan government in exile in India said he was the 146th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009.

Choeying is the not the first Tibetan to set himself on fire in India. A Tibetan exile set himself alight and died two days later in New Delhi in 2012.

On April 15, a Tibetan Buddhist monk set himself on fire in a public square in Ganzi, in western Sichuan province, according to Radio Free Asia and Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in Britain.