Skip to main content

Teenage monk self-immolates in China

By Madison Park, CNN
July 18, 2012 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
Tibetan monks chant prayers after a self-immolation in the Qinghai province in this photo taken June 15, 2012.
Tibetan monks chant prayers after a self-immolation in the Qinghai province in this photo taken June 15, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 18-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire in a monastery Tuesday
  • Lobsan Lobzin became the 44th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009
  • Self-immolation have become common form of protest against Beijing

(CNN) -- An 18-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire in a monastery in China's Sichuan province, according to advocacy organizations and the Tibetan government in exile.

The teenager, identified as Lobsan Lobzin, self-immolated, shouted slogans and attempted to march towards the local government's office in the town of Ngaba around noon Tuesday, according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which functions as the government of Tibetans outside the Chinese territory.

It was unclear what Lobzin shouted before he died, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a group based in India.

My Take: Why the Dalai Lama cannot condemn Tibetan self-immolations

Lobzin became the 44th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009, according to the CTA. Self-immolation has become a common form of protest for Tibetans who want autonomy from China.

Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations
Should Dalai Lama condemn immolations?
Dalai Lama: China belongs to the people
New realities for Tibetans in China

The local police office and county government did not comment on the incident when contacted by CNN. The Ministry of Public Security also did not respond to CNN's request for information.

After Lobzin's death, Chinese forces headed towards the monastery, but local Tibetans blocked a bridge to prevent the police from a possible confrontation, according to CTA and several Tibetan advocacy groups.

Lobzin had been at the Tsodun Kirti Monastery in Barkham County since he was young, according to the group, Free Tibet. He was described as being "one of the best students" at the monastery.

An act of faith, desperation or protest

Earlier in March, two other monks from the same monastery set themselves on fire. The group, Free Tibet, has described the self-immolations as "a fundamental rejection of China's occupation."

Timeline of Tibetan protests in China

The Dalai Lama has remained silent on the issue of self-immolations, refusing to answer questions earlier this year about whether monks should stop setting themselves on fire in protest.

Costica Bradatan, an assistant professor in the Honors College at Texas Tech University, observed that the Tibetan self-immolators were young and even teens, "which indicates that the new generation of politically aware Tibetans might have lost patience with the Dalai Lama's nonviolent political philosophy.

"In essence, these self-immolations are an extreme form of political self-expression. They are performed as part of a struggle for recognition, as an autonomous political community," he wrote in a CNN opinion piece.

Bradatan noted that the self-immolation of a young Tunisian street vendor in 2010 sparked an uprising that spread throughout the Arab world, yet dozens of Tibetan self-immolations have yielded little political results.

My Take: Dalai Lama should condemn self-immolations

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has hit its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 0638 GMT (1438 HKT)
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
ADVERTISEMENT