In this Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 photo, a Tibetan monk and pilgrims circle a Buddhist temple to offer prayers near the historic Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, Gansu Province, China. By the official account, Sangay Gyatso who lit himself on fire and burned to death near a white stupa near his Gannan village, was an incorrigible thief and womanizer who was goaded into setting himself on fire in an elaborate and cruel scheme to fan up ethnic hatred. But one year after Sangay Gyatso’s self-immolation, his cousin denied the government’s account. Since early 2009, overseas Tibetan rights groups have reported that more than 120 Tibetans – monks and lay people, men and women, and young and elderly – have self-immolated in protest of China’s suppressive rule of the Himalayan regions. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
GANNAN PREFECTURE, China (AP) — Soon after Sangay Gyatso lit himself on fire and burned to death in one of China’s ethnic Tibetan areas, police came knocking on his family’s door with questions — and seemingly the answers as well.
Was the fiery suicide of the 27-year-old farmer pre-arranged? Didn’t he have connections to foreign-based separatists? Didn’t the family get a 3 million yuan ($500,000) reward for the self-burning protest?
A cousin of Sangay Gyatso said his family was asked these questions before the government cast the father of two as an incorrigible thief and womanizer who was goaded into setting himself on fire in an elaborate and cruel scheme to fan up ethnic hatred. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation.
“It was all nonsense,” the cousin, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, said during an interview conducted in his room at a Gannan prefecture community in the rolling hills along the incline toward the Tibetan Plateau. He sat near a stove used for both Login to read more