Jan 09, 2012

Tibet: Another Self-Immolation Brings Total Number To 14

Two former monks set themselves ablaze to protest against the repression of Tibetan Buddhists 


The following article was published by AFP:


A Tibetan died after he and another man set themselves on fire in southwest China, statemedia said Sunday, taking the total number of such acts in the restive region to 14 in less than a year.

The incidents happened Friday near the Kirti monastery in Sichuan province's Aba county --the scene of sporadic bouts of unrest since a young monk named Phuntsog set himself alightlast March, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Rights groups say nine monks and two nuns have set themselves on fire over the past yearin Sichuan to protest against the [...] religious repression of Tibetan Buddhists, ofwhom at least seven have died.

Another former monk had burnt himself in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where seniorofficials met Sunday "to strengthen the management of monasteries in the fight against theDalai Lama group", Xinhua reported.

The latest acts involved two former monks at Kirti, Xinhua said. An 18-year-old died in a hotelroom while another man, aged 22, was being treated in hospital after they set themselvesablaze.The London-based Free Tibet campaign group, citing eyewitness accounts, said the 22-year-old had called for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, as he sethimself on fire.The flames were extinguished and he was taken away to an undisclosed location, they said.

A woman at the local hospital declined to comment on the condition of the survivor. Calls tothe county government and police went unanswered.A spokesman for the local government told Xinhua the man in hospital had "confessed" thatthe two men "conspired" to set themselves on fire.

An investigation also found the pair had been involved in a number of thefts, includingthe "case of the Kirti monastery Buddha statue burglary", Xinhua said.Stephanie Brigden, head of Free Tibet, said it was a "damning indictment" on foreign governments that 14 people had set themselves on fire and "the international community hasfailed to respond"."We can only expect that such acts of protest will continue for as long as world leaders turn ablind eye to the desperate situation in Tibet," she said in a statement.The Dalai Lama has condemned self-immolation, which many Buddhists believe are contraryto their faith, but said recently Tibetans faced "cultural genocide" under hardline Chinese rulethat he blamed for the protests.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of enacting religious repression and erodingtheir culture, as the country's majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historicallyTibetan areas.But China rejects this, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and pointing to huge ongoing investment, which it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living.

Xinhua quoted Basang Toinzhub, a senior political adviser in Tibet, as saying Sunday itwas "a top priority to maintain stability, enhance unity and promote harmony in Tibet becauseit concerns the stability of the nation".