A Tibetan student who self-immolated in an act of protest against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region has died in an Indian hospital, a doctor said Sunday (23).
Tenzin Choeying, 19, succumbed to critical burn injuries in New Delhi a week after shouting “Victory to Tibet” and setting fire to himself at a university campus in Varanasi, in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“He died on Saturday (22) days after he was shifted from a Varanasi hospital for specialised treatment,” Anil Rai, medical superintendent at Safdarjung hospital said.
His body will be handed over to the authorities after a postmortem, Rai added.
Self-immolation has regularly been used as a protest against China’s actions in Tibet.
The International Campaign for Tibet — which claims 150 Tibetans have self-immolated since since 2009 — said Choeying shouted “Victory to Tibet” before setting himself on fire.
Varanasi police, quoting eyewitnesses, said the 19-year-old yelled “freedom” before dousing himself with kerosene and setting himself ablaze on July 14.
They were investigating the motive behind the suicide, including recent exam failures as being a possible cause for his actions.
China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture.
China rejects the accusations and accuses the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, of inciting self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of the nation.
Choeying was the youngest of four siblings from a Tibetan family living in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile.
Tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees live in Indian settlements, the biggest of which is in southern Karnataka state.
A young farmer self-immolated in southwest China in March, the first Tibetan to set themselves on fire in 2017.
Choeying is the not the first Tibetan to set himself on fire in India.
Last year a schoolboy set himself on fire in the northern city of Dehradun to protest against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region.