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3 Tibetans Arrested on Suspicion of Circulating Self-immolation Video


Tashi Rabten's fatal self-immolation is seen in Machu, Dec. 8, 2016.

Tashi Rabten's fatal self-immolation is seen in Machu, Dec. 8, 2016.

Tibetans in exile say Chinese police in Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu arrested three Tibetans suspected of having internationally distributed footage of a self-immolation protest that took place in Machu on December 8.

The Dharamsala-based Central Executive Committee of Dhomay (CECD), an organization that represents Tibet's province of Dhomey, or Amdo region, told VOA that the three were detained December 9.

"There is no doubt about the three Tibetans being arrested, but at the moment we don't have their names," said Trison, a CECD spokesperson who, like many Tibetans, goes by one name only.

Footage of Tashi Rabten's fatal self-immolation December 8 circulated on Tibetan social media barely an hour after the protest took place.

According to Trison, who is from Machu County, Tashi's family members, including his father and 15-year-old son, were detained overnight and released the next day. Chinese officials cremated Tashi's body but later returned his ashes to the family, according to latest reports received by CECD on Tuesday.

The arrest occurred as China began to intensify efforts to restrict online information sharing. Last month, China's legislature approved a cybersecurity law that rights groups have criticized as a tool for tightening political control.

Tibetans suspected of having links to self-immolators protesting Chinese domination of Tibet are often subject to arbitrary arrests and detention.

By conservative estimates, the latest self-immolation, Tibet's 145th since 2009, has reportedly prompted calls for the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been living in exile since 1959.

Tashi's cousin, Tsering Kyi, self-immolated in 2012 in the same place where Tashi was doused in gasoline and set on fire.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Tibetan service.

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