Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Tibetan burns himself to death in China: reports

AFP, BEIJING

A Tibetan has died after setting himself on fire to protest against China’s rule of the Himalayan region in the first self-immolation in three months, a rights group and overseas media outlets said yesterday.

Sangye Khar reportedly set himself alight outside a police station in Xiahe County in western China’s Gansu Province, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) both said.

The 33-year-old set fire to himself in Amuqu Township on Tuesday morning, and died “in protest against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas,” RFA said, citing anonymous local sources.

The protest took place as authorities were reported to have stepped up a security crackdown while Tibetans gathered to mark a major religious festival.

Tuesday’s festival was the anniversary of the death of Tsongkhapa, who founded the Gelugpa — or Yellow Hat — school of Tibetan Buddhism in the 15th century.

Using the area’s Tibetan name, RFA said authorities had: “stepped up security in Amchok and clamped down on communications, including the Internet,” in the wake of the self-immolation.

“The situation in the area is tense,” the ICT said.

Calls to police and local government officials in Xiahe by reporters were not answered.

There have been more than 130 such acts in Tibet and elsewhere since 2009, most of them fatal, the ICT and RFA said.

Self-immolations peaked in the run-up to the Chinese Communist Party’s pivotal congress in November 2012 and have become less common in recent months.

The most recent such act was also outside a police station in a Tibetan-populated area of Gansu.

Student Lhamo Tashi died after setting himself on fire in front of a police station in Hezuo County in September, reports said.

A previous immolation was reported in April.

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