Teen monk disappears into Chinese police custody after staging a solo protest calling for freedom in Tibet

Sangay Gyatso in an undated picture

On Monday this week, a 17-year old monk named Sangay Gyatso was arbitrarily detained by local Public Security Bureau officers for staging a solo protest on the main street of Ngaba County town in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo.

A reliable source informed TCHRD that the monk carried out the protest calling for “Freedom for Tibet”. Immediately local police officers arrived at the scene and took the monk into custody. The monk was severely beaten up before he was detained, the source said quoting local passersby who witnessed the incident. The local police officers then took him away to an undisclosed location. The monk’s family members have no information about his condition and whereabouts.

Sangay Gyatso is a native of Soruma village in Choejema (Ch: Qiujima) Township of Ngaba County. He is a monk at the local Kirti Monastery and a 9th grade student of elementary Buddhist studies in the monastery. Some years ago, his family consisting of his father Zekar Soepa and mother Wangkho moved near the monastery leaving behind their nomadic home in Soruma.

Youth self immolates in Soruma

A day before Sangay Gyatso’s protest, another Tibetan from the same village carried out a self-immolation protest in Ngaba County. The 22-year old youth named Choekyi Gyatso aka Drukho had called for “May His holiness the Dalai Lama live for 10,000 years!” and “May the Tibet issue be resolved soon!” as he set himself on fire.

Exile Tibetan news outlets reported that Drukho sustained almost 70 percent burn injuries and it is presumed that he might have survived the self-immolation.

TCHRD is unable to confirm Drukho’s self-immolation and his status due to heightened restrictions on communication in Tibet. The centre is making every possible effort to ascertain the exact situation of the youth.

Drukho is the 42nd Tibetan in Ngaba County since 2009 to stage self-immolation to draw attention to  China’s repressive policies. The total number of known self-immolation protests in Tibet is now 155.


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