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Global Vigil for Drupchen Tsering

Nepal succumbs to China's pressure, Drupchen cremated in secret
We are deeply saddened to learn that Nepalese authorities have secretly cremated Drupchen Tsering's body without allowing the proper Buddhist final rites. In spite of diplomatic and international pressure on Nepal to release the body to Tibetans for appropriate final rites, the Nepalese government succumbed to China's long arm of oppression and disposed of Drupchen's body at the Pashupatinath cremation site two days ago.

This incident highlights the extent of China's stranglehold over Nepal, and the precarious situation of Tibetan refugees even after escaping from Chinese-occupied Tibet. It calls for greater international monitoring of China's oppressive influence in Nepal and the protection of the rights of Tibetan refugees there.

We will be holding a Global Vigil for Drupchen on Wednesday, April 3, which will mark the 49th day since his death. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, the consciousness of the deceased enters its next birth within 49 days of one's death. We request all Tibetans and supporters to participate in this Global Vigil for Drupchen next Wednesday (Lhakar) by holding prayer gatherings, public rallies at the Chinese Embassy/Consulate, and follow-up visits and phone calls to the Nepalese Embassy/Consulate to express your disappointment about this incident.

We thank all our members, Tibetans and supporters for doing everything they could to pressure the Nepalese government on this issue. In spite of the disappointing response by the Nepalese government, this incident allowed us to raise further awareness among the global public of the Tibet crisis and the wave of self-immolations. To date, 111 Tibetans in Tibet have self-immolated in protest of Chinese rule since 2009.

1. ORGANIZE a rally at the Chinese Consulate or Embassy.
2. HOLD a mass prayer gathering in a public place.
3. VISIT or CALL the Nepalese Embassy and express your disappointment at their decision.

Posted on March 20, 2013:

Nepalese newspaper The Himalayan Times has reported that the Nepalese government is preparing to declare Drupchen Tsering's body "unclaimed." This means that the Nepalese government will take ownership of the body. A government official is quoted as saying that the municipality will either "bury it or give it to a medical college," both of which would constitute a direct insult to Buddhist tradition that requires a body to be cremated with the proper rituals and prayers. From the latest updates we are hearing that Drupchen's body is still being kept at the mortuary of Kathmandu Teaching Hospital. Now that the government legally owns the body, it is even more appropriate to urge Nepal to cremate the body with the help of a Buddhist monastery instead of burying it or giving it to a medical college.

TAKE ACTION: Your action in the next day or two might make a critical difference.

Call Nepal's Foreign Ministry and Nepal's ambassador to the United States. Speaking firmly and politely, urge them to honor the religious customs of its Buddhist minorities and arrange the performance of final rites for Drupchen's body by a Buddhist monastery. Let them know that burying the body or giving it to a medical college would constitute the highest insult to Buddhism.

Foreign Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire: +977.1420019697
Foreign Secretary Durga P. Bhattarai: +977.1420019293 ext 246
Nepal's Ambassador to US Dr Shankar P. Sharma: +1.
202.667.4550 / 4551

Deliver a petition to the Nepalese embassy in your country. Below is a sample petition:

Honorable Khil Raj Regmi
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Date: March 22, 2013
Re: Buddhist cremation for the deceased Ven. Drupchen Tsering
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
On behalf of Students for a Free Tibet's 65,000 members in 35 countries, we request you to release the body of Ven. Drupchen Tsering to the Tibetan community for proper cremation rituals and final rites in keeping with Buddhist and Himalayan tradition.
On February 13th, 2013, Tibetan Buddhist monk Drupchen Tsering set himself on fire in Kathmandu, Nepal to protest China's repression in Tibet. After the self-immolation incident the Kathmandu Police took the body away and kept it in their custody and did not release it to various Tibetan representatives including the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Human Rights groups. It has been 38 days till today. The Kathmandu authorities have expressed intentions to either bury the body of the Buddhist monk or provide it to a medical college.
In a public notice published in Gorkhapatra on March 9th, the Kathmandu District Administration Office had threatened that if the kin of the monk did not come to receive the body of the deceased within seven days from the date of publication the body would be declared unclaimed. But the Kathmandu authorities knew the deceased was a Tibetan refugee and didn’t have any relatives outside Tibet and that his parents and kins feared Chinese persecution if they tried to come to Nepal.
Ven. Drupchen Tsering had come from Tibet towards the end of January and later sought asylum in Nepal, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee in Nepal had recognized his situation and recommended asylum. At the time of his protest (that took his life) he was last registered to be staying at the Tibetan Refugee Reception. Therefore we request you to release the body to the Centre who would carry out the last rites the deceased must receive as a Buddhist and also as a monk.
On the other hand, ‘burying’ Ven. Tsering's body or ‘handing it over to a medical college’ as expressed by the Kathmandu authority would not only violate Buddhist cremation rituals, but it would constitute a total desecration of the lama's body. Nepal being a deeply spiritual country and home to millions of Buddhists, the conscience of Nepal would not allow such an act.
Besides, Customary International Laws, Rule 116, compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross, echoes the Geneva Convention – which Nepal ratified and acceded to in 1964 – which requires that religious practice be followed if at all possible with regard to disposal of the deceased. The rule requires that "the dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner," and stipulates the right of the dead to be honorably cremated or interred according to the "rites of the religion to which they belonged." Nepal has absolutely no excuse not to adhere to the Buddhist doctrines that Ven Drupchen Tsering would have wished followed."
Nepal is a country where many religions and traditions coexist in harmony because of a fundamental respect for the religious diversity that undergirds the Himalayan nation's identity. We urge you to respect Nepal's Buddhist and Himalayan traditions and allow Ven. Drupchen Tsering’s body the peace and blessings that can only be provided by proper administration of Tibetan Buddhist cremation rites.
We strongly urge the deceased body of Drupchen Tsering be immediately released to the Tibetan community for proper Buddhist cremation rituals. The Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre would be willing to receive the body and even willing to cover any cost for transport and other cost. Mr. Tamding Dorjee, who is the leader of 22,000 Tibetan refugees living in Nepal, can represent the Centre.
Yours sincerely,
Your name
and affiliation

Posted on March 15, 2013.
On February 13, Tibetan Independence Day, 25-year-old Drupchen Tsering set himself on fire in Kathmandu, Nepal, in protest of China's rule in Tibet. Images of his burning body spread quickly through the Tibetan world, while his body was seized by the Nepali police.
It has now been over 35 days since Drupchen Tsering's demise. Outrageously, Nepali authorities have ignored repeated requests to return the body to the local Tibetan community for proper cremation rites and rituals. Buddhists consider the final ritual administered over a deceased person's body as a most sacred and inviolable right.


Nepali authorities have said that Drupchen's body can be handed over within 35 days to immediate family members (all of whom are in Tibet, barred from traveling) or diplomats (probably meaning Chinese diplomats). Senior international diplomats have advised us that this was potentially a way of laying the ground for turning the body over to Chinese government.

Over the last two weeks, SFT members have petitioned and pressured Nepali consulates in the US, Canada, India and other countries. SFT India collected hundreds of petition signatures and submitted them to the Nepali embassy in Delhi. We can tell Nepal is feeling the pressure to do the right thing, but we need to multiply this pressure.

Now we must turn up the heat on the Nepali government, which is about to make a decision on how to handle the body in a couple of days. Please take a moment today to make a call, send an email, and urge Nepal to do the right thing.


1. Call the Nepali embassy/consulate in your country. Firmly and politely demand the release of Drupchen's body. You can find phone numbers here:

2. Email Nepal's Home Minister at and Foreign Minister at,, Let us overwhelm their inbox with letters of concern.

3. Organize a rally at the Nepali consulate/embassy and urge Nepal to do the right thing. Send us photos and videos of your rally.



March 1, 2013

New York: Today in New York, Students for a Free Tibet organized a rally at the Nepal Consulate and delivered a petition addressed to the Nepali Prime Minister. About 40 Tibetans and supporters gathered at the Nepal Consulate in New York City to protest Nepal’s failure to return Drupchen Tsering’s body to the Tibetan community 16 days after his self-immolation.

nepalconsulatestaff.jpgOn February 13, 2013, when Tibetans around the globe commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the Tibetan Proclamation of Independence, Drupchen Tsering, a monk living in Nepal, lit his body on fire to protest China’s continued crackdown and brutal rule in Tibet. He was immediately taken into police custody, where he was later declared dead. It has been 16 days since he self-immolated and yet the Nepal police still have not returned his body.

"What we are demanding from the Nepali government is the most basic human decency," said Tenzin Dorjee, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet. "We want the Nepal government to respect the basic rights of Tibetan refugees and allow the Tibetan community to conduct the proper final rites for their deceased compatriot."

Students for a Free Tibet delivered an urgent petition letter to the Nepal consulate urging the Nepal government to return Drupchen's body to the Tibetan community in Nepal. In a positive turn of events, the consulate's senior staff members came out to meet with the protesters and publicly accepted the petition letter, promising Students for a Free Tibet that they would pass on the petition to the Prime Minister's office and relay the demands of the Tibetan-American community in New York City.

nepalconsulatetselha.jpg"It really saddens me to see China's long arm of oppression stretch so deep into Nepal's heart," said Tselha, grassroots associate at Students for a Free Tibet. "I want to see Nepal's government revive its old friendship toward the Tibetan people and show the world that in spite of China's pressure, Nepal is still a democratic country that respects human rights and religious freedom."

A similar rally was also held in Toronto, Canada on Friday by Students for a Free Tibet Canada.

"The Nepalese government right now has an opportunity to prove that it is a democratic government that respects human rights,” said Lhamo Kyi, an organizer with Students for a Free Tibet in Toronto. “Nepal is stooping lower and lower in the world stage every day that they hold on to his body. In Nepalese culture, one’s body is highly respected after death, with religious rituals to ensure the proper passage into next life. We expect the same for Drubchen Tsering, a person who sacrificed his life for the cause of Tibetan freedom."



Below is the text of a letter that SFT submitted to Nepal's Prime Minister on March 1.

March 1, 2013

Honorable Baburam Bhattarai
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal

Re: Return the body of Tibetan self-immolator Drupchen Tsering

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of 65,000 members in 35 countries, we are writing to express our outrage and disappointment at the lack of concern your Government has shown in handling the body of the deceased Drupchen Tsering, 25, who self-immolated for Tibetan freedom on February 13, 2013 in Boudha. It has been over 16 days since his demise and the authorities have ignored repeated requests to return the body to the local Tibetan community.

It is clear that there is strong Chinese interference in your domestic politics. The Nepalese government’s response to the self-immolation is eerily similar to China’s handling of the bodies of self-immolators inside Tibet, where the Chinese police bundle the body hurriedly and cremate it secretly. Relatives of the late Drupchen Tsering are living in anxiety due to the fear of being arrested if they should come forward to claim the body and yet are tormented by the inability to perform the final rites for the deceased in accordance with Buddhist tradition.

As the country of Buddha’s birthplace, we expect your government to understand how the final rites for a deceased person forms a central part of Buddhist tradition. We urgently request the Government of Nepal to return the body of Drupchen Tsering to the local Tibetan community so that final rites may be carried out without any delay in accordance with Buddhist and Himalayan custom.


Tenzin Dorjee
Executive Director