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Buddhist monks uncover photos identifying three Tibetans who self-immolated in 2012

Buddhist monks and Tibet Watch have obtained photographs identifying three Tibetans who self-immolated in 2012

Three pictures identifying Tibetans who set themselves on fire in 2012 as a protest against Chinese rule have been sent to Tibet Watch by Buddhist monks.

The images of the three young self-immolators, who are all between 17 and 20 years old, have not yet been widely distributed to news organisations, one of the monks who sent them from Kirti Monastery in Dharamsala, India.

The Tibetan self-immolators pictured in the photos the monks sent are:

Dorjee, from Cha Ruwa, Ngaba, self-immolated on 5 March, 2012 and died within minutes.

Lobsang Sherab, from Cha Town, Ngaba, self-immolated on 2 March, 2012, and died at the scene.

Lobsang Dhamchoe, a former monk at Kirti Monastery, Ngaba. Dhamchoe self-immolated on 27 August, 2012, and again died at the place where he was burnt.

There have been over 155 known self immolations in Tibet since February 2009, with 84 of them happening in 2012. Many of those who burned themselves could not be identified at the time because of political restrictions on their family members.

The date of the first protest by self-immolation is debated with some Tibetans saying the practice began when a monk in his early twenties, called Tapey, set himself on fire on 27 February 2009.

But others inside Tibet believe there is truth in unconfirmed rumours that two Tibetan nuns, one called Deshar, burned themselves in 2008, helping to spark the 2008 riots.

Tibetan activist, writer and blogger, Tsering Woeser said:

“These protestors undergo the ultimate pain of burning each and every cell of their bodies, without harming other living beings, simply to make their voices and grievances heard.”

“My head held high, I step forward and set my body alight . . . for the dignity of Nangdrol, and for the Tibetan people, to whom I owe unending gratitude,”  

Nangdrol, an 18 year old who self-immolated in 2012 said in a note she left behind.

Many others who self-immolated also left messages which called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, Tibetan freedom and relaxation of the religious and cultural policies of the Chinese government.