Tue, Mar 10, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Tibetan woman self-immolates in China, reports say

AFP, BEIJING

A Tibetan woman burned herself to death days before the anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, a rights group and media outlets said, in the first such incident this year.

The woman in her 40s, whose name was given only as Norchuk, reportedly set herself alight on Friday near Trotsuk Township in Aba County — also known as Ngawa County — in Sichuan Province, the British-based Free Tibet campaign group and US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) both said.

It was the first self-immolation in Tibetan areas this year and came days before today’s anniversary of a failed uprising in 1959 that led the Dalai Lama to flee into exile in India.

Norchuk is the 137th Tibetan thought to have set themselves on fire since 2008, RFA said at the weekend, and was affiliated with a monastery in the area.

The broadcaster’s Chinese-language report said that Norchuk had one son and two daughters.

Her body was cremated by the local government, Free Tibet said late on Sunday, “preventing her family and community from carrying out traditional funeral ceremonies.”

However, an official with the Chinese Communist Party’s office in Aba County yesterday denied the reports.

“The reports are wrong,” she told reporters, adding there had not been any self-immolations in the area in recent days.

Security in many Tibetan areas has been tightened recently, RFA said.

It cited locals as saying the move was aimed at intimidating Tibetans who wanted to celebrate religious observances during last month’s Lunar New Year holiday, and at preventing protests on today’s anniversary.

Pictures have emerged on social media sites of a heavy security presence last week at Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province for “Monlam,” or the Great Prayer Festival, showing dense ranks of uniformed personnel in a courtyard.

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

Self-immolations peaked before the party’s pivotal five-yearly congress in November 2012, and have become less common in recent months.

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