A TIBETAN student who self-immolated in India after shouting, “Victory to Tibet” has died from his injuries, a doctor said on Sunday.
Tenzin Choeying, 19, succumbed to critical burn injuries in New Delhi a week after setting fire to himself at a university campus in Varanasi, in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“He died on Saturday, days after he was shifted from a Varanasi hospital for specialised treatment,” Safdarjung Hospital medical superintendent Anil Rai told AFP (via The Star).
According to Anil, his body will be handed over to the authorities after a postmortem.
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Self-immolation has regularly been used as a protest against China’s actions in Tibet. But Choeying’s recent exam failures were also investigated as a possible motive for his actions.
There are conflicting reports as to what the student shouted prior to dousing himself in kerosene and setting himself alight on July 14.
Varanasi police, quoting eyewitnesses, said the teen shouted “freedom”. The International Campaign for Tibet – who identified Choeying – claimed, however, he said, “Victory to Tibet.”
Choeying was initially expected to survive the ordeal, with his brother telling Al Jazeera he was in a stable condition.
“He is stable, the next five days are crucial, the doctor says,” Tenzin Tsundue said on July 16. “My concern, as his brother, is to arrange for him the best treatment, and get him back to life.”
Tsundue also sent a note to Al Jazeera he said Choeying wrote before the incident.
In it, Choeying wrote in English:
“Please don’t cry. Tell everyone my body is for Tibet.”
China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and demand for the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to rule over the region.
Currently exiled in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, Beijing regularly accuses the Dalai Lama of engaging in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion. China also opposes any foreign officials meeting with him.
Choeying was the youngest of four siblings from a Tibetan family living in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile.
Self-immolation is not uncommon in the Himalayan region, with many choosing to sacrifice their lives to denounce the constant human rights violations allegedly orchestrated by Beijing.
According to The International Campaign for Tibet, there have been 150 reported self-immolation cases since a wave of protests began in 2009, although that number is likely higher, considering the information chokehold in the region.