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New Tibetan self-immolation in China: rights groups

November 04, 2012

A Tibetan man screams as he runs engulfed in flames after self-immolating at a protest in New Delhi, India, ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the country Monday, March 26, 2012. - AP Photo (File)

BEIJING:A young Tibetan set himself on fire in northwestern China on Sunday, two overseas rights groups said, continuing a series of self-immolations by Tibetans apparently protesting Chinese rule.

About 60 others have set themselves alight since 2009, including seven within one week late last month in a significant escalation. Dorjee Lhundrup died soon after setting himself ablaze in Qinghai province, said the US-based International Campaign for Tibet, citing photographs of the body and Tibetans outside China in touch with those inside.

Security forces deployed on the streets after the incident and restricted residents' movements, said the UK-based Free Tibet, citing local Tibetans.

Free Tibet used a different spelling, Dorje Lungdup, for the man's name and said he was 25, while International Campaign for Tibet said he was in his mid-twenties.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of repressing their religion and undermining their culture, as China's majority Han ethnic group increasingly relocates into historically Tibetan areas.

China says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom as well as improved standards of living thanks to government investment. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday urged China to address the many grievances in Tibetan areas that have given rise to the protests.

“I recognise Tibetans' intense sense of frustration and despair which has led them to resort to such extreme means,” she said, noting reports of “continuing allegations of violence against Tibetans”.

Also last week, the US ambassador to China Gary Locke urged Beijing to re-examine policies toward Tibetans as he acknowledged that he had quietly visited monasteries during the spate of self-immolation protests.

“We have very serious concerns about the violence, of the self-immolations, that have occurred over the last several years,” he said from Beijing to an online forum in the US, calling the incidents “very deplorable”.