Hundreds of Tibetans gathered in Dharamshala on Monday to participate in a candlelight vigil over the recent self-immolation that happened in Tibet on March 27.

Taphun, an 81-year old Tibetan self-immolated for the Tibetan cause in Kirti, Ngaba County. He self-immolated in front of the public security bureau office outside near the Kirti monastery compound which was built in 2008 for the surveillance of the monastery area. It’s the 159th self-immolation for the Tibetan cause since the year 2009.

Five major Tibetan NGOs jointly organized the candlelight vigil on Monday evening in solidarity with Taphun.

“Today we are here organizing a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Taphun, an 81-year old man who self-immolated in Tibet. It’s again a new, another self-immolation this month. The month of March is considered very sensitive politically and there is more surveillance by China. He self-immolated in front of the public security bureau, which was in front of the monastery built in 2008, just to keep surveillance on us, which eventually shows that there is no right to religion there. His self-immolation indicates the grim situation– lack of freedom and rights in Tibet that is under illegal Chinese occupation,” said Tenzin Passang, an activist from Students for a Free Tibet (SFT).

“It’s painful, we have this 81-year old Tibetan who self-immolated which shows the kind of frustration that every Tibetan person in Tibet has to go through. The protest sends a clear message to China that we don’t want to live under you and we will do anything in our capacity to fight against you,” said Namgyal Dolkar, an MP of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

“Today again we heard the sad news from Tibet. 81-year old Taphun self-immolated in front of the police station in Tibet. They do not have any alternative, this is the highest level of protest one can do without harming others and doing the right thing. We demand that China should stop repression of the Tibetans,” said Tenzin Lobsang, an activist from SFT.

Notably, as a form of protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet, as many as 159 Tibetans since 2009 have set themselves on fire, according to Phayul.

Three self-immolations have been reported so far this year as earlier, a popular singer Tsewang Norbu (25) had self-immolated in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa on February 25 and a Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a police station on Kham region in Tibet’s Kyegudo.

However, with the information blockade in Tibetan areas intensifying in the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for any news to come out of Tibet.

Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and later annexed it. The 1959 Tibetan uprising saw violent clashes between Tibetan residents and Chinese forces. (ANI)