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VOA Exclusive: Smuggled Video Shows Tibetan Monk Who Set Himself on Fire - Refutes Chinese Claims of 'Normal Life' in Region

From smuggled video of young Tibetan monk who died in March after setting himself on fire in protest of Chinese policies.

Video documents police crackdown with officers leading detainees away and blocking streets near Buddhist Monastery.

Voice of America has obtained rare video smuggled out of a Tibetan area of southwest China, where a young Tibetan monk died recently after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese policies.

VOA’s Tibetan Service posted the video on its website (click here) along with an interview with the person who secretly shot the tape, which shows the badly burned Tibetan monk sitting in the back of a car shortly before he died.

VOA Tibetan Service Managing Editor Losang Gyatso says the video, “contradicts statements made by China’s foreign ministry, that police in Sichuan province immediately took the young monk to a hospital for treatment after he set himself on fire.”

Tibetan rights groups reported at the time of the March 16 incident that witnesses saw police severely beat the monk as they put out the flames.

The video, which does not show the incident of self immolation, documents a heavy police crackdown in the town of Ngaba and around the entrance to the Kirti monastery, with officers leading detainees away and blocking streets.

The exiled head Lama of the Kirti monastery, Kirti Rinpoche, told VOA, "The videos show that the crackdown on Ngaba and Kirti Monastery is not just hearsay, but a reality. The Chinese claims that everything is normal go against what we see here. If things have indeed returned to normal today, then I call on the authorities to allow journalists to visit and report on the conditions.”

Chinese officials did not immediately comment on the video tape, which was shot at great personal risk by the person who made it available to the Voice of America. VOA has not disclosed how it obtained the videotape or who recorded the images.

Voice of America Tibetan Service editors say they have received information from the region indicating that Chinese authorities continue to impose heavy restrictions on the monastery and on people living in the area which has a large ethnic Tibetan presence.

VOA provides extensive coverage of events in and around Tibet on radio, television and its Tibetan Service website, which is available in English ( and Tibetan (