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How self-immolations affect Tibetans


08:23, February 05, 2013

Key Words: Tibet; Tibetans; self-immolations

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As his black cat leans to him, Chirarab sits on a bed with his legs crossed, wondering why his son chose to end his life in a pre-meditated self-immolation.

"He is so foolish. I did not educate my son well," says the 63-year-old Tibetan veterinarian.

His son, 31-year-old Tsekho, did not get along well with his wife prior to his death. He wanted to do business and make money and asked his father for start-up money. However, Chirarab refused and scolded him, as the father worried his alcoholic son would squander the money in excessive gambling and drinking.

After hearing that self-immolating could make him a "hero," Tsekho told his friends, "I rather burn myself than live like this."

He lit himself on fire beside a bridge in his village on Nov. 29, 2012. Two of his fiends fed the fire by pouring gasoline onto a woolen blanket and throwing the blanket to Tsekho. Another two villagers sent photos of his self-immolation overseas, along with his detailed personal information.

Some foreign media later branded Tsekho a "Tibetan martyr" protesting the growing influence of Han Chinese in the Tibetan plateau. They also used his story as an excuse to attract international attention to the so-called "Tibet issue" and the ultimate pursuit of "Tibet independence," a campaign spearheaded by the Tibetan government-in-exile, with the Dalai Lama as its spiritual leader.

Villagers carried Tsekho's corpse to his parents' home and gave Chirarab the grievous news of the death of his only son.

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