Global Vigil for Drupchen Tsering
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.
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:
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.
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: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/nepal.
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.
On 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.
"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
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
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.