Four more Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest at China’s rule and at least 20 students were hospitalized on Monday after a protest turned violent in Qinghai Province’s Hainan Prefecture, US broadcaster Radio Free Asia said in an e-mailed statement, citing Tibetan exile sources.
The spate of burnings in recent weeks began in the run-up to the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress and have brought the total for this month to 21, and to 85 since 2009, Radio Free Asia said.
London-based exile group Free Tibet said up to 1,000 students took part in the demonstration.
Radio Free Asia said students were angry over a booklet distributed at Tsolho Medical Institute in Hainan’s Chabcha County calling Tibetans irrelevant and saying immolation protests by Tibetans were “acts of stupidity.” It said students burned the books in their protest.
The broadcaster quoted anonymous sources inside China’s Tibetan areas as saying teenaged nun Sangay Dolmas died from self-immolation on Sunday in Qinghai Province’s Tongren County.
On Monday, 18-year-old Kunchok Tsering died after burning himself in Gansu Province’s Xiahe County while a 20-year-old former monk, Wang Gyal, self-immolated in Sichuan Province’s Seda Country, though his condition was not immediately known, it said. In Gansu’s Luqu County, 24-year-old Gonpo Tsering died after setting himself ablaze, the report said.
“We are now receiving reports of self-immolation protests on an almost daily basis,” Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said. “Allied to the many other forms of protests which Tibetans are undertaking — marching, leafleting, displaying banned images and exerting Tibetan culture — it forms an unimpeachable argument for an end to Chinese occupation.”
“Although we cannot confirm whether security forces beat students or not, it would appear that the change in Chinese leadership has not led to a change in the brutality which passes for government in Tibet,” Brigden added.
Beijing has accused exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations.
He has preferred to remain neutral on the acts in public statements, but has urged the Chinese government to investigate, saying: “China does not look into it seriously and tries to end [the incidents] only by criticizing me.”