Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Second Tibetan self-immolates in a week: groups

KEEPING TIGHT GRIP:Chinese authorities have sought to crack down on the self-immolations by arresting those it accuses of inciting such lethal acts

AFP, BEIJING

A young Tibetan in southwestern China has died after setting himself on fire, rights groups have reported, marking the second self-immolation protest in a week and lifting the total to nearly 100.

London-based Free Tibet said in a statement on Saturday that a 28-year-old man, identified by the single name Dupchoek, died on Friday afternoon in Drachen township in the Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Sichuan Province.

Free Tibet said that 97 Tibetans have self-immolated since February 2009 to protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibet.

According to a list on the group’s Web site, about 75 of them have died.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country’s majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.

China rejects that, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. Beijing also points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernization and a better standard of living to Tibet.

International Campaign for Tibet, based in Washington, also reported the self-immolation at the same location, though identified the man by the single name of Tsering and described him as being in his twenties.

US-based Radio Free Asia identified the dead man as 28-year-old Tsering Phuntsok.

There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy in names.

Other details of the three reports were broadly similar.

Radio Free Asia also said 97 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since February 2009.

The latest self-immolation followed the burning to death on Jan. 12 of a young Tibetan man in China’s northwestern Gansu Province, the first reported case since early last month.

Authorities have sought to crack down on the trend by arresting those it accuses of inciting such acts, and has ordered judicial bodies to charge anyone aiding or abetting them with murder.

Chinese state media reported on Tuesday last week that Gansu police had arrested seven people who allegedly incited a 26-year-old ethnic Tibetan man to set himself ablaze in October last year.

The rate of self-immolations spiked in November last year in the lead-up to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) once-a-decade power transition, where Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) was named CCP general secretary.

Beijing routinely accuses the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his “clique” of inciting such acts of protest to push a separatist agenda.

The Dalai Lama, who says he is not seeking Tibetan independence, but greater autonomy, fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising. He has since based himself in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.

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