Eyewitness account of Tibetan self-immolation in Nepal

TCHRD has received an eyewitness account of self-immolation protest staged by Drubtse on the third day of Tibetan New Year, 13 February, in Boudanath, Kathmandu, Nepal.

The eyewitness, a foreign tourist, who wants to remain anonymous, on account of the sensitivity of the issue, had a chance encounter with Drubtse moments before he self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

“We arrived at galleria café in Boudanath around 8. 15 am. We were to have our breakfast, when a young Tibetan guy, probably between 20-25 years old, came forward to speak to us. He then spoke about Tibet and said that it is a beautiful land and he loved it so much,” said the eyewitness.

The eyewitness had no clue that Drubtse was going to self-immolate.

The eyewitness added, “He dragged me behind a door of the café, where he took out a lighter and asked me to take pictures. Everything happened so fast, but he was very calm. He then left immediately. I went back to the terrace of the café, and ordered my breakfast. Then I heard a large noise, of people screaming and running away.”

Describing the courage of the self-immolator to endure pain, the eyewitness said,

“He was running to the right, engulfed in flames. He didn’t scream. The moment lasted around three minutes. Soon, people took out their jackets and sweaters to put out the fire.”

Tibetan news sources later reported that Druptse wrapped himself with cotton with the help of a metal wire and doused his body in petrol.

Nepalese police immediately came to the scene of the self-immolation and took Drubtse away to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. He later succumbed to his injuries at 10:30 pm (1645 GMT) on 13 February. “His body had 96 percent burns,” AFP quoted Bhagawan Koirala, director of Tribhuvan Hospital as saying.

Drubtse, 25, was a monk, and a native of Gyalchug village in Nupsur Township of Serta (Ch: Seda) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

Drubtse had earlier told his friends and relatives that he had not been able to do anything for the Tibetan cause, but promised them that he would do something for the Tibetan people in future.

Drubtse reached Nepal in January this year after leaving Tibet and had been staying at the Tibetan reception centre in Kathmandu.

As of now, the Nepalese police have not returned his body, despite their promise to do so on 15 February.

Following Drubtse’s self-immolation, the Nepalese police have further increased their restrictions on Tibetans living in Nepal.

A day after the self-immolation protest, an obscure local organization blatantly unveiled, a banner from a Tibetan monastery at Boudanath warning local Tibetans of severe consequences if they continue their political activities in Nepal.

The banner proclaimed, among others, that ‘the soul of the victim [of Drubtse] and the supporter of dirty politics will rot in hell.’

Drubtse’s father is a reincarnated lama called Trulku Sangnag Tenzin. His mother’s name is Tselha.