Potala Palace self-immolation protester identified as popular Tibetan singer — Radio Free Asia

A Tibetan who shouted slogans and set himself on fire last week during a protest outside the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet’s regional capital, has been identified as a popular contemporary Tibetan singer, sources in the region and in India told RFA on Saturday.

Tsewang Norbu, 25, died after the February 25 self-immolation attempt, which initial reports say was thwarted by police.

“Tsewang Norbu tried to protest against the Chinese government by attempting to set himself on fire and according to a few of my reliable sources inside Tibet, (he) died,” a Tibetan living in exile told RFA.

The date and place of his death could not be immediately confirmed. RFA could not reach his family and relatives in Lhasa. Norbu’s mother, Sonam Wangmo, is also a well-known artist in China, the exiled source said.

The comment section on Norbu’s social media accounts has been disabled due to the heavy influx of condolence messages, while many of his songs have now been removed from many Chinese music apps, the source said.

A singer and composer of modern, ethnic, popular and traditional songs, Norbu released the songs “Tsampa”, “Dress Up” and “Except You” among many others which were popular among the Tibetan community at home and abroad. .

The enormous Potala Hill that dominates the Lhasa skyline was the winter palace of the historic Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, when the current Dalai Lama fled to India after an uprising against Chinese rule over the region once-independent Himalayan country, sparking a crackdown in which the palace was bombed and thousands were killed by Chinese troops.

A second source from the large Tibetan exile community in India confirmed hearing about the Potala incident but also had no further details.

With Norbu’s death, 158 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, and eight others have committed suicide in Nepal and India.

The previous self-immolation report was of a 26-year-old man named Shurmo, who set himself on fire in September 2015 in Nagchu County (Tibet Autonomous Region, Naqu). His death was not confirmed until January last year.

Friday’s aborted self-immolation bid came ahead of the March 10 anniversary of the 1959 rebellion, known as Tibetan National Uprising Day, a time when the Chinese government is stepping up usually control and monitoring.

High-tech controls on telephone and online communications in Tibetan areas often prevent news of Tibetan protests and arrests from reaching the outside world.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is vilified by Chinese leaders as a separatist intent to divide Tibet, which was forcibly invaded and incorporated into China in 1950, from Beijing’s control.

The Dalai Lama himself says only that he seeks greater autonomy for Tibet as part of China, with guaranteed protections for Tibet’s language, culture and religion.

Chinese authorities maintain a stranglehold on the region, limiting Tibetans’ political activities and the peaceful expression of their ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial executions.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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