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In 2008, discontent and ethnic hatred erupted into violent riots across Tibetan regions, including Gannan.
Sangay Gyatso’s cousin said local Tibetans are upset over an influx of China’s majority Han people, who often get government jobs while Tibetan youth remain unemployed. "We have become a pitiable people that are nobody," he said.
The cousin recalled Sangay Gyatso becoming agitated over what he considered a lack of rights for Tibetans.
"He said he was not capable of doing big things, but said as an individual he could burn himself," the cousin said.
The shocked cousin tried to talk him out of it, but Sangay Gyatso assured him at the time that he was only joking.
After Sangay Gyatso died, his cousin said, "I thought of his words. Oh, he was preparing to do it. ... My heart ached, and I cried."
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