Name: Tulku Athup aka Thubten Nyendak Rinpoche
Date of Self-immolation: 6 April 2012 Location: Dzogchen Monastery in Eastern Tibet
Current whereabouts/wellbeing: Deceased
Slogans: Not reported
Reincarnate lama Tulku Athup — alias Thubten Nyandak Rinpoche — 45, and his niece, Atse, 25, self-immolated at the former’s residence in Dzogchen Monastery in Kham Province on 6 April 2012.
A few days before the immolation, Tulku Athup had said that he would offer butter lamps for all those who have self-immolated for the cause of Tibet. He also told his students to engage in meritorious acts such as saving the lives of animals.
On the day of his immolation, he called up his family and reportedly said, “Today I feel at ease and am ending my life by offering butter lamps for all those Tibetans who have set themselves on fire for the cause of Tibet”. Immediately after making the call, he and his niece set themselves ablaze.
Chinese police from Dartsedo immediately arrived at Dzogchen Monastery. Fearing closure of the monastery, monk officials told the police that Tulku Athup and his niece had died due to an accidental fire in the house rather than by self-immolation. Chinese police then withdrew from the monastery. Since then the authorities have imposed severe restrictions across the region and cracked down on local Tibetans, leaving many of them severely injured. Due to this complication in the story, this case of self-immolation went unreported for almost a year.
Tulku Athup joined Lhakang Dragkhar Monastery in Minyak, Kham, at a young age and later studied at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa and Kirti Monastery in Ngaba.