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Families suffer amid Tibetan flames of deceit

By Li Huizi, Jiang Weichao and Zhang Chunxiao  (China Daily)

09:22, February 05, 2013

Hezuo Monastery in Gannan, a Geluk monastery founded in 1673, is home to 147 monks. [ LI XIAOJUN /CHINA DAILY]

Key Words: Tibet; Tibetans; self-immolations

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Myths and falsehoods help lure people to fatal act, report Li Huizi, Jiang Weichao and Zhang Chunxiao in Gannan, Gansu.

As his black cat leaned toward him, Chirarab sat on a bed with his legs crossed, wondering why his son chose to end his life in a premeditated self-immolation.

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

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

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

He set himself on fire beside a bridge in his village on Nov 29, 2012. Two of his friends 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 on 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 "Tibetan 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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