China intensifies ban on religious gatherings after third self-immolation

Chinese authorities have intensified the ban on holding religious rituals for those who die of self-immolation protests as another Tibetan, third in this month alone, set his body on fire in Bora township in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.

On 22 January, at around noon, Kunchok Kyap aka Kunbey set his body on fire in protest at the courtyard of Bora Monastery. He is believed to have died. Kyap set himself on fire when the monks at the monastery were holding their daily prayer session. In their absence, Chinese security forces took away his body to an undisclosed location.

Sources tell TCHRD that Chinese security forces who arrived at Bora after the self-immolation consist of Sangchu County Public Security Bureau officers and and a Special Police force team.

Local Tibetans from three major villages in the area including Kyap’s village, Bogtsa Gyangring (or Gyara), Datue and Chewo villages marched to the local government office and called on the authorities to release Kunchok Kyap’s body. The local officials also warned them that not a single monk or a person was allowed to go to Kyap’s home to offer prayers and condolences to his family members.

Following the threats issued by the authorities against holding prayer ceremonies, Tibetans from the above-mentioned villages decided to hold a prayer ceremony outside the local government’s office if none of them were allowed to pay respect to the deceased and his family. It was unanimously decided that all the people, young or old would participate. More Tibetans from Thewo, Chaklam, and other villages in Bora Township have also given their support to hold the prayer ceremony at local government office premises.

Kunchok Kyap is son of Mr Dorjee Tsetan and Mrs Rinchen Tso. His brother’s name is Phagpa Tsering and his sister’s name is Nyingmo Kyi.

According to sources, Kunchok Kyap was a man of few words, modest and unassuming. He was also a very hardworking man. He was married to Kharmo Thar and lived with her parent’s family in the same Gyara village. His family consisted of his father-in-law Namgyal Tsering, mother-in-law Chakmo Chuk, sister-in-law Dorjee Tso and his wife’s granparents.

Kunchok Kyap’s son is no more than a year old.