A Tibetan has burned himself to death inside a Buddhist monastery in China as part of a grisly series of protests against Beijing’s hardline rule of the region, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported yesterday.
Sangye Gyatso, a 27-year-old father of two, called out for freedom of religion and language in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ exiled spiritual leader, before setting himself on fire on Saturday in China’s Gansu Province, Free Tibet said in a statement.
Saturday’s self-immolation means that 44 ethnic Tibetans have now burned themselves to death since the protests began in February 2009, the US network reported. Another 10 people are said to have set themselves on fire, but survived.
Citing sources inside Tibet, RFA’s Tibetan service said the latest protest happened inside the Dokar monastery, in the south of China’s western province of Gansu.
RFA’s Chinese-language Web site showed photographs of Gyatso’s charred body, but the station said that its sources had provided little information about the 27-year-old’s background.
A man from the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture propaganda office said he had no information about the reported incident. Calls to the local police rang unanswered.
Independent verification of events and conditions in Tibet is nearly impossible because of restrictions on travel.
“Sangye Gyatso’s protest demonstrates the absolute determination of Tibetans to secure their freedom, no matter what the personal cost may be,” Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement late on Saturday.
However, the London-based group said the incident happened at about midday near a monastery outside the city of Tsoe, known as Hezuo in Chinese,
The group said Sangye Gyatso’s body was carried to nearby Dokar Monastery, where monks prayed for him, and was then taken a short distance to Dzeruwa village, where his family had gathered. He had a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, according to Free Tibet.
Meanwhile, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) reported this weekend that a writer who spoke out against Chinese repression had burned himself to death on Thursday.
Gudrub, 42, called for freedom for the region and the return of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama while flames engulfed him in Tibet’s Nagchu county, the London-based ICT said, giving only one name for the writer.
“Tibetans who are concerned about the welfare of the people are subjected to arbitrary arrests and beatings,” Gudrub wrote earlier this year in an essay translated by the Tibetan service of the US-based Voice of America.
“Tibetans who refuse to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama or accept China’s rule [of] Tibet are secretly killed or made to disappear,” he said.
As a result, Gudrub added, Tibetans “are sharpening our non-violent movement [and] declaring the reality of Tibet by burning our own bodies to call for freedom in Tibet.”
The latest incidents come after the prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile called on the international community to resist growing pressure from China and stand up for human rights in his homeland.
Lobsang Sangay, who last year took over political duties from the Dalai Lama, said the spate of self-immolations were proof of severe Chinese repression in Tibet.