Another Tibetan Monk Dies After Setting Himself on Fire

Posted January 8th, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Reports from Tibet say another Tibetan monk died Sunday after setting himself on fire in Dari county of Amdo region.

The reports say that before 42-year-old Lama Sopa Tulku set himself ablaze, he said he was doing so to commemorate all the Tibetans who have died since 2009 for Tibet's freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

Lama Sopa Tulku is the third Tibetan Buddhist to self-immolate in the past three days as a form of protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

China's official Xinhua news agency confirmed Sunday that a former Tibetan monk has died after he and another man set themselves on fire Friday near the flashpoint Kirti monastery in Sichuan province.

Xinhua said the 18-year-old former monk burned himself to death in a hotel room, while a 22-year-old was hospitalized with serious burns after setting himself on fire at a nearby crossroads.

At least 14 Tibetan Buddhists are believed to have set themselves on fire in the past year since a young monk protesting Chinese rule died after self-immolating outside the Kirti monastery in March. That death sparked months of protests by monks and nuns and triggered a major Chinese crackdown that included the arrests and disappearances of hundreds of monks.

Beijing has denounced the self-immolations and accuses Tibetan exiles of encouraging them. The government says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom.

On Sunday, Xinhua quoted local authorities as saying the burnings are carried out by lawbreakers and people who had “previously been punished for their wrongdoings,” such as visiting prostitutes, gambling, burglarizing or being deep in debt.

In November, the U.S. State Department urged Beijing to address its “counter-productive policies” in Tibetan areas of Sichuan province. A spokeswoman said China's policies have created tensions which threaten the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.