List of Martyrs

35 Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople have set fire to themselves in Tibet since 2009; 22 since 6 January 2012.  At least 25 have died and the whereabouts and current status of the others is not known.  All of those who have self-immolated called for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.

Choepak Kyab and Sonam (both 20s) self-immolated in Barma township, Ngaba county on 19 April. Both died.

These young Tibetans are believed to be related and to come from herder families. They set light to themselves close to a local government office near Jonang Dzamthang Gonchen monastery in the Tibetan area of Dzamthang. Local people prevented paramilitary personnel from removing the bodies, and took them into the monastery.

Tenpa Dhargyal, 22, (left) and Chime Palden, 21, (below), monks of Tsodun Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 30 March in Barkham County, Ngaba region. Chime Palden died the same day, Tenpa Dhargyal is in a critical condition.

The two monks set themselves on fire outside government buildings in Barkham while shouting slogans against China’s rule in Tibet. Monks from their monastery – Gyalrong Tsodun Kirti Monastery, 80km away – rushed to the scene in three vehicles, but were stopped on route by police who made them to turn back. Sources report that both monks were alive when they were taken to the hospital by security officers. Tenpa Dhargyal and Chime Palden both studied previously at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba. Chime Palden’s body was cremated and his ashes handed to Tsodun monastery on 31 March. Tenpa Dhargyal is believed to be in a critical condition in Ngaba hospital.

silhouette monk maleLobsang Sherab, 20 year-old monk, self-immolated on 28 March in Cha township, Ngaba region. He died at the scene.

Lobsang Sherab was a monk from Ganden Tenpeling monastery in Rasuwa, Ngaba region (Amdo). Paramilitary police immediately removed his body, ignoring appeals from his family to be allowed to take the body. Lobsang Sherab had recently studied at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, only returning home two days before he died.

Sonam Dhargye, 43 year-old farmer, self-immolated on 17 March in Rebkong. He died at the scene.

Sonam Dhargye , a father-of-three, set himself on fire in Tongpo town, Rebkong. Following his protest, local Tibetans – both monastic and lay – gathered in large numbers to pay their respects.

Lobsang Tsultrim, 20 year-old monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 16 March. Died on 19 March.

20-year-old Lobsang Tsultrim set himself on fire in Ngaba. He is believed to have set himself on fire and walked in the town while shouting protest slogans and pumping his fist into the air. During his protest, and while he burned, Chinese police are believed to have knocked him down, beaten him and thrown him into the back of a truck.  He was taken away by the police and died on 19 March. His body was cremated by government authorities.

Jamyang Palden, 34 year-old monk from Rongwo Monastery, self-immolated on 14 March. He is believed to have survived.

At 10.30 am Jamyang Palden set him self alight in the square outside his monastery in Rongwo town, Rebkong county. Initially he was taken to the local hospital but a number of monks took him back to the monastery, fearing his arrest by the Chinese authorities. After the self-immolation, around 500 monks gathered in the square and they were soon joined by a number of local people. The gathering started with prayer for Jamyang Palden and led to a large peaceful protest, with Tibetans calling for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet.

silhouette monk maleGyepe, 18 year-old monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 10 March. He died at the scene.

At around 5pm on the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, Kirti monk Gyepe set himself alight behind a Chinese military camp in Ngaba. Army personnel refused the request of local people to hand over his body to the family: five relatives were permitted to attend a cremation on 11 March.

Dorjee, 18 years-old, self-immolated in Ngaba County on 5 March.  He died at the scene.

Dorjee, aged 18, set fire to himself at approximately 6.30pm near Chara Township, Ngaba County. Eyewitness reports state he set himself on fire near a bridge outside the township and then walk in flames to a government office building where he collapsed.

Rinchen, 32-year old widow and mother of four, self-immolated in Ngaba on 4 March. Died at the scene.

Rinchen, who was widowed last year, set fire to herself in front of the police station at the main gate into Kirti Monastery, calling out: “Tibet needs Freedom and the Dalai Lama needs to return to Tibet”. Local people took Rinchen’s body into the monastery. Rinchen is from a nomadic village and her children range in age from early teens to just a few months old.

Tsering Kyi, 19, a student in Machu County, self-immolated 3 March. Died at the scene.

Tsering Kyi, a young student from Machu County Tibetan Middle School, set herself on fire in Nyima Town, Machu County; she died at the scene. Eyewitness reported that, while in flames, she raised her hand above her head in a fist several times.  It is also reported that Tsering Kyi had spoken about her serious concern for the situation in Tibet stating, “We should do something for Tibet – life is meaningless if we don’t do anything for Tibet.” The police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and closed off the immediate area with people unable to leave for some hours. Her body was removed by Chinese police and taken to the local police station.

silhouette monk maleNangdrol, 18 year-old lay person, self-immolated in Dzamthang, Ngaba on 19 February. He died at the scene.

Nangdrol, a young layman (initially believed to be a monk from Samdrup Norbu Ling Monastery), set fire to himself in Dzamthang, Ngaba and died at the scene. Nangdrol is reported to have shouted slogans before he died including “May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live 10,000 years!” and “Freedom for Tibet!”. Following his death, Chinese police authorities attempted to remove his body, but monks from the monastery refused to hand him over and reports have been received of many hundreds of Tibetans gathering in Dzamthang to keep watch over his body.

Dhamchoe Sangpo, 38 year-old monk, self-immolated in Themchen, Amdo on 17 February. Died shortly afterwards.

Dhamchoe Sangpo set light to himself near the grounds of his monastery, Bongthak Ewam Tare Shedrup Dhargey Ling. It is reported that he died shortly after the immolation. Dhamchoe was a teacher at the monastic school and a member of the Democratic Managment Committee; a government controlled body used to control the monasteries. Security at the monastery was tightened in January 2012 after protests against a patriotic re-education programme had been staged. Dhamchoe’s self-immolation is the third protest of this kind to have happened in the Chinese province of Qinghai.

silhouette monk male largeLobsang Gyatso, 19, monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated in Ngaba on 13 February. Status unknown.

Lobsang Gyatso set light to himself at around 2pm in Ngaba town, shouting slogans. He was immediately surrounded, the flames extinguished and removed from the scene. Two other youths near the scene were reportedly beaten; one escaped but the other was taken away. Lobsang Gyatso’s current whereabouts and condition are not known.

Tenzin Choedron, 18, self-immolated near Ngaba on 11 February. Died shortly afterwards.

A nun from Dechen Chokorling, Tenzin Choedron set light to herself near the nunnery at 6pm, while shouting slogans of protest against the Chinese government. Sources reported that soldiers and police came immediately and took her away, towards Barkham. China’s State News Agency Xinhua confirmed that she died soon afterwards. Soldiers surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off. Tenzin Choedron was from the same nunnery as Tenzin Wangmo, who self-immolated and died in October 2011.

Sonam Rabyang, 35, a monk, self-immolated in Tridu on 9 February. Status unknown.

Sonam Rabyang  was a monk from Yuthung village, Lab township, Tridu County, Yulshul in Kyegudo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province (Kham). He was at Lab monastery, and set fire to himsef in Tridu town. Sonam survived his protest but is believed to be in a critical condition in a military hospital in Xining city. He has serious lung damage and his right leg has been amputated to the knee. His family are not allowed to visit him.

Rinzin Dorjee, 19, a former monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 8 February in Ngaba. Died on 21 February in Barkham hospital.

On 8 February at around 18:30 Rinzin Dorjee (also known as Rikpe) self-immolated at No. 2 Primary School in Ngaba town. Shortly after the incident, security personnel arrived, doused the flames, and reportedly took Rikpe to Ngaba County hospital and later to a hospital in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang), capital of Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

silhouette monk maleLobsang Jamyang, 21, self-immolated on 14 January. Died 14 or 16 January.

On 14 January Lobsang Jamyang, a lay Tibetan, set light to himself in Ngaba. Police extinguished the flames and beat him. Tibetan eye witnesses became distressed and a spontaneous protest took place in which a large crowd tried to retrieve the dying man. More police arrived and opened fire. At least two people were shot. Details of those who were shot, remain unclear.

Golog Lama Sopa (Sonam Wangyal), 42, monk; self immolated on 8 January 2012. Died at the scene.

On 8 January 2012 Lama Sopa, a highly respected monk, set himself on fire and died in front of the police station of Darlag (in Chinese, Dari) county in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Before he set himself ablaze he distributed leaflets in which he wrote that he was performing the deadly act “not for his personal glory but for Tibet and the happiness of Tibetans”. He explained that he believed “Tibetans should not lose their determination. The day of happiness will come for sure. For the Dalai Lama to live long, the Tibetans should not lose track of their path”. He is believed to be the most senior monk to have self-immolated so far. His death prompted a gathering of several hundred Tibetans who forced the police to hand over his body.

silhouette monk maleTennyi and Tsultrim, both around 20, a monk and former monk; self immolated on 6 January 2012. Both died.

According to information from Tibetan exile sources,  Tsultrim and Tennyi, both around 20 years of age, set themselves on fire in the courtyard of a hotel in the center of Ngaba town and ran into the street shouting “His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return to Tibet” and “May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live for 10,000 years!” Tennyi, who is believed to be a monk from Kirti monastery, died on 6 January and Tsultrim, a lay person who may have been a former Kirti monk, died on 7 January.

Tenzin PhuntsokTenzin Phuntsog, 46, former monk; self immolated on 1 December 2011. Died on 6 December.

Tenzin Phuntsog self immolated in Chamdo on 1 December and was hospitalized with serious injuries. It is believed that the former monk was from a monastery in Chamdo township named as Karma monastery, which some sources say was under lockdown following a rumored bomb blast at a local government building on 26 October. He died on 6 December.

Palden ChoetsoPalden Choetso, 35, nun; self immolated on 3 November. Died on 3 November.

On 3 November 2011 in Tawu, Kardze, 35 year-old Palden Choetso of Geden Choeling Nunnery self-immolated, making her the second nun to do so in Tibet’s history. She reportedly shouted “Tibetans will reunite soon,” “long life for His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” and called for basic human rights in Tibet. She died at the scene and her body was taken to Nyitso Monastery – the monastery of Tsewang Norbu, the monk who self-immolated and died on 15 August 2011.
This video describes the self-immolation in detail:

Dawa Tsering Tibetan monkDawa Tsering, 38, monk, Kardze monastery; 25 October 2011. Whereabouts unclear.

Dawa Tsering self-immolated during a religious ritual dance within the walls of Kardze monastery in eastern Tibet on 25 October. While engulfed in flames, he shouted for the return of the Dalai Lama, as well as for freedom and equality in the region. Sources have reported that Dawa Tsering is being cared for by monks in Kardze monastery having declined hospital treatment but his whereabouts cannot be absolutely confirmed.

silhouette monk femaleTenzin Wangmo, 20, nun, Ngaba; 17 October 2011. Died at the scene.

20-year-old Tenzin Wangmo, a nun at Dechen Chokorling near Ngaba town, called for religious freedom in Tibet and the return on the Dalai Lama as she set herself on fire outside of the nunnery. She died at the scene after less than 10 minutes. Sources have reported militarization intensified at Dechen Chokorling nunnery and the surrounding areas. She is the first woman to self-immolate in the history of Tibet.

Norbu DamdulNorbu Dramdul, 19, former monk, Ngaba; 15 October 2011. Reports indicate he died on 5 January 2012.

On 15 October, former Kirti monk Norbu Dramdul set himself alight in the central market of Ngaba town. The 19-year-old shouted “freedom for Tibet,” and publicly called for the return of the Dalai Lama. Eyewitnesses reported he was chased down by police while still on fire. Police extinguished the flames, beat him, and took Norbu away in a police vehicle.

choephelChoephel, 19, and Khaying, 18, former monks, Ngaba;  7 October 2011. Both died.

On the morning of 7 October, two former monks from Kirti monastery, Choephel, age 19, and Khaying, age 18, held their hands in supplicatory gestures and shouted protests against Chinese rule before setting themselves on fire on a main street in Ngaba town. Choephel died on 11 October.


Khaying died on 8 October.

kalsang wangchukKalsang Wangchuk, 17, monk, Ngaba; 3 October 2011. Whereabouts unknown

Kalsang Wangchuk, a 17-year-old monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, set himself alight on 3 October near the vegetable market in Ngaba town. He reportedly held a photograph of the Dalai Lama and shouted, “there are no religious rights and freedom in Tibet”. The police extinguished the fire and took Kalsang Wangchuk away. His well-being and whereabouts are currently unknown.

Tibetan Monk Lobsang KalsangLobsang Kalsang, 18, and Lobsang Konchok, 18, monks, Ngaba; 26 September 2011. Current whereabouts unknown

Two young monks of Kirti monastery, Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, set fire to themselves on 26 September. The two 18-year-old monks waved the Tibetan flag, which is banned in Tibet, and called for religious freedom. They shouted “long live the Dalai Lama” before they self-immolated.

Tibetan Monk Lobsang Kunchok

Both these young monks are relatives of Phuntsok Jarutsang, who was the first monk to have self-immolated in 2011 (see below). In March 2012, reports emerged that Lobsang Konchok (left) had undergone multiple amputations, and his parents had not been allowed to see him.

Tibetan Monk tsewang NorbuTsewang Norbu, 29, monk, Kardze; 15 August 2011. He died at the scene

On 15 August 2011, a 29-year-old monk from Nyitso monastery named Tsewang Norbu set himself on fire in the center of Tawu (Ch: Daofu), Kardze (Ch: Garzi) in eastern Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province). Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, doused himself with it, and then lit himself on fire. Eyewitnesses heard him shout, “we Tibetan people want freedom,” “long live the Dalai Lama,” and “let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet”. Tsewang Norbu died at the scene.

Tibetan Monk Lobsang PhuntsokPhuntsok Jarutsang, 20, monk, Ngaba; 16 March 2011. He died on 17 March

Tibetan sources reported that on 16 March 2011, a 20-year-old Tibetan monk from Kirti Monastery named Phuntsok Jarutsang self-immolated in an act of protest in Ngaba town (Ch: Aba), eastern Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province). He called for the return of the Dalai Lama, and eyewitnesses reported that Chinese authorities beat Phuntsok as they put out the flames. Phuntsok died at approximately 3:00am local time on 17 March.

Six monks, including Phuntsok’s brother and uncle, were sentenced in connection with Phuntsok’s self-immolation.

Of the eleven who have self-immolated since March 2011, six have died – Phuntsok Jarustang, Tsewang Norbu, Choephel, Khayang, Tenzin Wangmo and Palden Choetso. The current well-being and whereabouts of the other five – Lobsang Kelsang, Lobsang Kunchok, Kalsang Wangchuk, Norbu Dramdul and Dawa Tsering – are unknown.

Tapey, 20s, monk, Ngaba; 27 February 2009. His current whereabouts and status are unknown.

On 27 February 2009, Tapey walked to the crossroads near the market in Ngaba town and set fire to himself. He was shouting slogans and holding a home-made Tibetan flag which contained a photograph of the Dalai Lama. He was shot by People’s Armed Police (PAP) and fell to the ground, when PAP doused the flames and took him away. His current well-being and whereabouts are unknown.