18th Party Congress

Six Tibetans set themselves ablaze on eve of 18th national congress

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 4:10am

Six Tibetans set themselves on fire in China in an escalating wave of protests as the country's leaders gathered for the Communist Party's 18th national congress, exile leaders said yesterday.

A man set himself ablaze yesterday in the Tibetan-inhabited Huangnan prefecture in Qinghai province where a 23-year-old woman self-immolated and died on Wednesday, the India-based exile government said.

A trio of teenaged monks also set themselves alight on Wednesday in Aba county, Sichuan province, the focus of previous protests, while another burning was confirmed in the Tibet Autonomous Region on the same day.

Self-immolations to protest Chinese rule in Tibet have occurred regularly since March 2011, but Wednesday marked the first time such a large number have happened on the same day. Two were reported dead.

"The self-immolations in Tibet are an appeal to the international community, to the Chinese government and to the Chinese people as human beings to hear their cry for help," said Dicki Chhoyang, information secretary for the government.

Sixty nine Tibetans have set themselves alight since February 2009, of who 54 have died, according to the government in exile, which has been based in India since Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959.

China blames followers of the Dalai Lama for fomenting unrest in Tibet and orchestrating the self-immolations.

Stephanie Brigden, director of the London-based Free Tibet campaign group, said the spate of protests were "aimed at sending the next generation of China's unelected regime a clear signal that Tibetans will continue to fight for their freedom".

The India-based exile group Students For a Free Tibet said that Jinpa, the man who set himself alight on Thursday afternoon, had died, but the government in exile was unable to confirm this.