A Monk’s Life in Turmoil in Tibet ~ The New Yorker

Dongtuk’s home town was known for self-immolations. How would he choose to live?

Tibetan monks buy food from a shop inside a monastery.
The Kirti monastery, in the town of Ngaba, has become an epicenter of Tibetan self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule. Photograph by Benjamin Haas / AFP / Getty

From a quick glance, you might have been unsure if the boy standing in the crowd of onlookers was Chinese or Tibetan. You saw plenty of both in Ngaba, a small town on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. He wore tinted glasses and had a big puff of hair in a garish red hue, which must have come from a cheap drugstore dye. His face was obscured by a nubby black-and-white scarf tugged over his nose. The boy knew he looked peculiar, but he didn’t care. He had disguised himself so that people in town wouldn’t recognize him; until recently, he had been a Buddhist monk. The Chinese police considered monks to be troublemakers, so it was better to be mistaken for a punk rocker.

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