Tibetan Sets Self on Fire in India

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A Tibetan exile has set himself on fire during an anti-Chinese protest in India's capital, New Delhi, just days before a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The man, identified by fellow exiles as 27-year-old Jamphel Yeshi, was engulfed in flames Monday as he ran down a street screaming. A VOA reporter said police tried to put a blanket on him to douse the fire.

The protester was taken to a hospital with burns over 98 percent of his body.

President Hu will arrive in India later this week for a summit meeting of the so-called BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

This is the second self-immolation by a Tibetan exile in New Delhi in recent months. Tibetan rights groups say 29 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in regions under Chinese control.

China refers to the self-immolators as terrorists who are carefully coordinated by “trained separatists.”

Tibetans accuse China of pursuing a policy of deliberate cultural extinction in Tibetan-inhabited areas. Images of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are forbidden. Monks and nuns are forced to undergo patriotic “re-education” programs. And Beijing floods the areas with non-Tibetan economic migrants who are accused of discriminating against the local population.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory. Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries.