News / Asia

10th Tibetan Buddhist Self-Immolates in Southwestern China

Tibetan monks pray during a candlelight protest march, saying harsh Chinese control pushes Tibetans into setting themselves on fire, in New Delhi, India, October 20, 2011.
Tibetan monks pray during a candlelight protest march, saying harsh Chinese control pushes Tibetans into setting themselves on fire, in New Delhi, India, October 20, 2011.

A leading Tibetan exile group said Tuesday another Tibetan Buddhist set himself on fire in southwestern China, in the latest in a string of self-immolations aimed at protesting Chinese rule in the region.

The incident, reported by the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, is the 10th such self-immolation by protesting Buddhists in Sichuan province this year.

The group said the latest protest took place at the Kardze monastery about 150 kilometers from the flashpoint Kirti monastery where the nine previous self-immolations occurred.

Witnesses said the monk, Dawa Tsering, was engulfed in flames as he called for the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile and the reunification of the Tibetan people.  His condition is not known.

The self-immolations started after the Chinese authorities in Beijing ordered a curb on religious freedom by forcing monks into re-education programs. They made monks renounce the Dalai Lama and study communism.  

The monks protested, so the Chinese authorities placed small police stations inside some monasteries and cut off water and electricity supplies in others.

Tibetan exile groups say the Chinese government is to blame for the deaths, while Western governments have released statements that generally concur with the view that Chinese tactics are contributing to the situation.

The Chinese government says the acts, which have sparked other protests around the region, go against the beliefs and scripture of Buddhism.  

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said Beijing's primary concern is to keep "normal social order" in Sichuan and Tibet, and described the self-immolations as "splittist activities" and "terrorism in disguise."  The ministry said it has contacted Indian authorities to pursue terrorism charges against Tibetan exile groups based in northern India.

Last week, Beijing accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging monks to set themselves ablaze by glorifying the protests rather than condemning them, and said that foreign governments should refrain from commenting on the matter.

Chinese officials also responded to U.S. calls to respect the rights of Tibetan and other Chinese citizens by saying that Washington should not meddle in China's internal affairs.

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