2 More Tibetans Self-Immolate in China

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Two more Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest China's crackdown on rising Tibetan dissent in China's Sichuan province.

Sources with contacts in the region tell VOA the Tibetans, both in their 20s, set themselves ablaze near a monastery in the Sichuan provincial city known as Aba to Tibetans and Ngawa to ethnic Chinese. Both later died.

At least 35 people have set themselves on fire in the past year, most of them Buddhist monks or nuns in Tibetan areas of China. Two have self-immolated in India. All were described as supporters of Tibetan autonomy who were demanding that China allow the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Beijing has not commented on the latest incidents — which come just days after the pro-Tibetan advocacy group, the International Campaign for Tibet, released video footage of a man engulfed in flames and running in circles. That immolation also occurred in Aba.

Beijing has described the protests as barbaric and terrorist acts. But Western advocacy groups and many governments say the protests are a direct response to ethnic Chinese indifference to Tibetan religious practices and cultural norms.

China also accuses pro-Tibetan exile groups of inciting separatism, and routinely refers to the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” (separatist).