68. Tamding Tso

Name: Tamding Tso

Age: 23

Sex: Female

Profession: Housewife

Date of Self-immolation: 7 November 2012 at around 5:30 pm (local time)

Location: Rebkong, Amdo, Northeastern Tibet

Current whereabouts/wellbeing: Deceased

Tamding Tso, the mother of a six-year-old son, Nyingjam Tseringset herself on fire near the Ghemar Thang market area of Rebkong city in the Tibetan area of Amdo. According to eyewitnesses, Tamding Tso shouted “His Holiness the Dalai Lama Must Come to Tibet” before setting herself on fire and passing away. Following the self-immolation protest, monks of Dowa Monastery carried her charred body to her home. Thousands of Tibetans reportedly gathered in the region, raising slogans for the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and offering prayers. Tamdin’s last words were addressed to her father: “Father, being a Tibetan is so difficult. We can’t even say our prayers to Dalai Lama’s portrait. We have no freedom at all…” The following is the transcript of a conversation with Tamding Tso’s father following her immolation: “She has always seemed concerned about the situation in Tibet and the reason for her self- immolation is for the Tibetan Cause and not for any personal and family problem. What triggered her self-immolation seems to be what happened about one month ago, when she went to Rebkong Dowa town with me and saw the posters which were distributed by the new local leader, Jiangshu Cheng, banning His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s picture and telling people to publicly protest separatists and their activities. “She was visibly angry and felt very sad to see those posters. She told me, ‘Father, this is such a sad destiny for the Tibetan people when we can’t even keep and pray before the picture of our spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.’ On that day, after we returned home, she mentioned this repeatedly and since then she stopped eating meat and kept fast to this till the last day. As a concerned father, I was worried for her health and told her to eat meat. But she refused. A few days before she told me that she wanted to go to Rebkong city, but I told her we have much work at home during this winter. “On the 7th of November, she was with her younger brother at home; after the younger brother left to tend the cattle she cleaned the house and made prayers in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portrait. It seems she made her last prayer on that day before making the decision to self-immolate. Finally, she took the petrol from our motorbike and used it to set herself on fire. “She was the only daughter and the favourite in our family. She was my most beloved daughter and I have never raised a finger to her since she was born. When such a sad thing happened, suddenly it felt like my heart was being taken out of my chest. But I believe she made this decision for the Tibetan Cause and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to their thrones. So, therefore, I think it is useless to think about anything else than to respect her decision and sacrifice. Therefore, I plead to you all to work tiredlessly to fulfill her goals and aspirations. “I also request you all to pray that my daughter may be reborn in independent Tibet and hear and see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in her next life. Thank you all.”tamdintso

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