A video obtained by Voice of America’s Tibetan service captures evidence of a young monk having set himself on fire in Kirti on March 16.
The video appears 50 seconds into a Voice of America news broadcast. In the segment, there is footage of a young monk, said to be Phuntsog, sitting in a car, covered in severe burns, still alive but seemingly in shock. The footage can be found here. Please be advised that portions of this footage are graphic and may be disturbing.
The video is being looked upon as hard evidence that refutes China’s claim that the situation in the area is calm and harmonious. China’s claim came in response to a March 14 statement from the US State Department that urged China to respect religious freedom and human rights of the people of Tibet.
The statement specifically referred to the situation at the Kirti Monastery, from which a number of monks were forcibly taken by Chinese police. In reference to this incident, spokesperson Mark Toner said, “We believe [this is] inconsistent with internationally recognized principles of religious freedom and human rights. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are obviously concerned by it.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei dismissed Toner’s statement in a press conference on April 19, stating that “people of all ethnic groups in China enjoy increasingly extensive freedom and rights.”