With the sad news of the cremation of self-immolation protester Ven Drupchen Tsering's body, who died in Kathmandu on 13 February, we recommend Tibet Groups hold prayers and vigils next Wednesday, 3 April, to mark the 49th day of Drupchen Tsering's passing. While we haven't recommended this for every self-immolation protester whose body was not returned to the family in Tibet, there was an expectation that this case would be different, and considerable frustration at the outcome.
Background: Drupchen Tsering's body was cremated by the Nepal authorities on Monday, despite considerable efforts being made by the Tibetan community and local Nepali groups to obtain its release so that the proper funeral rites could be given. (Drupchen Tsering was a new arrival in Nepal, with no immediate family in the country). The Nepal government's decision to declare the body "unclaimed" is likely to have been influenced by direct pressure from China, and there may also have been a wish among some officials in Nepal to close the matter before the high profile visit of former US President Jimmy Carter later this week.
Although it is deeply regrettable that Nepal didn't "do the right thing", we must remember that the pressure from China is intense and a real attack on Nepali sovereignty. Building support for Tibet in Nepal, through emphasizing the religious and culture ties that Tibetans and Nepalis share, will be important for any effort to persuade Nepal to stand up to Chinese pressure in the future.
1. On Wednesday 3 April, please hold public or private prayers and vigils to mark the 49th day since the demise of Drupchen Tsering, either as part of your regular Lhakar event or as a special event.
2. Deliver letters to the embassy of Nepal, expressing your regret and disappointment about what happened and urging the Nepal government to stand up to China's pressure on the Tibetan community in Nepal.
3. Copy your letters to your Foreign Ministry and/or your country's embassy in Nepal, requesting them to continue their efforts to protect the rights of Tibetans living in Nepal. You can find embassy links in Kathmandu here http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/nepal
Update on Immolation Totals: You may have seen that new evidence has emerged about the deaths of religious figure Thupten Nyandak and his niece Ani Atse, from Tawu county last April, in the form of a phone call to family members in which Nyandak said he intended to end his life. See http://tibet.net/2013/03/27/new-report-confirms-self-immolation-of-tulku-athup-and-his-niece/. As a result of this new information, we have included these deaths in the totals, which are now at least 113 by Tibetans living under China's rule. See http://standupfortibet.org/learn-more/
Alison and the Network Secretariat team