Exiled self-immolator dies; India tightens security in Tibetan areas for Hu Jintao

Jamphel Yeshi (Tibet Post International)

As we reported yesterday, a Tibetan living in exile in India self-immolated on Monday in protest of Chinese rule in Tibet. Twenty-seven-year-old Jamphel Yeshi set himself afire in New Delhi; by Tuesday, posters of him could be found throughout the streets of Dharamsala and more than two hundred supporters took to the streets that night, waving Tibetan flags and declaring Jamphel Yeshi a martyr. Yeshi died on Wednesday morning from his injuries (some 98% of his body was covered in burns, according to initial reports).

The New York Times has translated a letter that Jamphel Yeshi wrote the Tibetan people, which you can read here. In it, Yeshi wrote:

“The fact that Tibetan people are setting themselves on fire in this 21st century is to let the world know about their suffering, and to tell the world about the denial of basic human rights. If you have any empathy, stand up for the Tibetan people.”

Indian authorities decided to crack down on Tibetan districts in New Delhi on Tuesday. Paramilitary officers closed down the Tibetan neighborhoods there and hundreds were either arrested or confined to their homes. These actions were taken prior to the arrival of China’s President Hu Jintao on Wednesday, there to attend the BRICS Summit (an annual meeting of leaders from Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa). They also come during a particularly sensitive time for Tibet’s exiled community, considering Jamphel Yeshi’s death.

Meanwhile, protests and unrest continue in Chinese-ruled Tibet; hundreds of monks marched the streets on March 15, waving Tibetan flags and calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Fifty of the monks were arrested that evening, their whereabouts unknown. China believes that the situation in Tibet today can be addressed by improving the area’s economic outlook, though Tibetans are clearly interested in autonomy and religious freedom.

Photo via Tibet Post International