Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Tibetan protester sets himself alight

PASSIONS INFLAMED More than 50 activists have been arrested for attempting to breach security surrounding the Chinese president since he arrived in the country


A Tibetan activist unfurled a Tibetan flag and then set himself on fire yesterday outside the Mumbai hotel where Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) was staying to protest Chinese rule in the Himalayan region.

Police said Hu and his staff were inside the hotel at the time of the incident.

The man and six other Tibetan youths drove up to the hotel in two taxis, jumped out and began chanting slogans against China's occupation of Tibet.

The protester -- who said his name was Lhakpa -- poured kerosene on himself and set it alight, shouting "Free Tibet" and "Hu is a killer."

Several policemen quickly jumped on the man, rolled him on the ground and doused the flames.

Protesters wearing T-shirts saying "China get out of Tibet" and "Chinese -- cheap quality, cheap friends," jostled with police who eventually bundled them away to a nearby police station.

Mumbai police commissioner A.N. Roy said the activist was not seriously wounded.

"Doctors are monitoring his condition," Roy said.

He also denied there had been a breach of security.

"The hotel has been secured since last night. This took place outside the barricades," he said.

After the incident police cordoned off adjacent roads to the hotel.

Hundreds of Tibetans living in exile in India have been demonstrating in New Delhi and many other cities across the country against what they say is China's illegal occupation of Tibet.

Tibetan representatives say more than 50 protesters have been detained by police since Monday for trying to breach security and move into prohibited areas in order to get close to Hu.

India became a center for Tibetan exiles after their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled there in 1959 after a failed uprising, settling in the northern town of Dharmsala.

Indian police have taken strong measures to prevent protests near Hu that could embarrass the Chinese leader.

Last week Indian police barred a prominent Tibetan activist, Tenzin Tsundue, from leaving Dharmsala during Hu's visit.

Tsundue has a reputation for publicity stunts that have embarrassed previous Chinese visitors and Indian police.

Police also barred gatherings of more than five people at places Hu was scheduled to visit while in New Delhi earlier this week.

Most Tibetans say China has attempted to destroy Tibetan Buddhist culture by flooding Tibet with migrants of China's ethnic Han majority.

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