Tibetan burns himself to death, second self-immolation in a week
Agence France-Presse in 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.
London-based Free Tibet said in a statement Saturday that a 28-year-old man identified only by the name Dupchoek, died 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 website, 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 modernisation and better standards of living for 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.
The incident occurred exactly one week after a young Tibetan man in northwestern Gansu province burned himself to death, the first reported case since December and the first self-immolation of the year.
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.
State media reported on Tuesday 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 in the lead-up to the Chinese Communist Party’s once-a-decade leadership transition, in which Xi Jinping was named party chief.
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.