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Tibetan Father of Four Self-Immolates in China

FILE - Activists displaying portraits of people who killed themselves via self-immolation take part in a rally to support Tibet in Taipei, March 10, 2013.

A father of four in China's Sichaun Province set himself on fire Wednesday to protest China's repressive policies towards Tibetans.

Tenzin Gyatso self-immolated outside a government meeting hall in Khangsar town of Tawu county after sunset. Sources say the police authorities arrived within minutes of the incident and confiscated his body.

It has been a standard practice in the past few self-immolations, for the protester to be taken away still alive. The next morning, the authorities inform the family that their loved one had died and been cremated during the night. This practice is viewed by Tibetans as a form of punishment since it robs the family of the opportunity to cremate their loved ones properly according to Tibetan traditions.

According to a VOA source, Tibetans in the Tawu region had gathered few days prior to the incident and organized a successful political and educational awareness on Tibetan identity and culture as a tribute to the Dalai Lama who turns eighty this July. A large number of Chinese police officials and para-militants swarmed the town that very day and beat the locals. Tibetans who protested were arrested.

Gyatso's wife and four childlren have no knoeledge of his whereabouts.

Gyatso's protest brings the total number of known self-immolations in Tawu county to six in the past seven years.

There have been over 140 such acts in Tibetan areas since 2009, but the protests have been less frequent in recent months, following the imposition of fines and other penalties for families and others with close ties to self-immolators.

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