12th Tibetan self-immolates in China

2011-12-02 11:43
Beijing - A former Tibetan Buddhist monk set fire to himself in south-western China in the 12th such protest by Tibetans this year, rights groups and Tibetan exile groups said on Friday.

Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, self-immolated on Thursday afternoon in Khamar township in the Chamdo area of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, US-based Radio Free Asia and the London-based International Campaign for Tibet reported.

"Shortly afterward, Chinese police extinguished the fire and took him to a hospital with severe burns," Radio Free Asia quoted an Indian-based Tibetan exile with contacts in Khamar as saying.

The International Campaign for Tibet quoted sources as saying Tenzin Phuntsog was a former monk at the nearby Khamar monastery.

The area had been under tight security since a bomb exploded outside a local government building in the township on October 26, the broadcaster reported earlier.

Unclear how many survived

Thursday's self-immolation was the first reported in the Tibet Autonomous Region after 11 similar incidents in Tibetan areas of neighbouring Sichuan province.

All of those who set fire to themselves were reportedly current or former monks and nuns. It remained unclear how many of them survived.

The Chinese government has accused exiled Tibetans of encouraging the recent protests.

But the US State Department has expressed concern over the self-immolations and said they "clearly represent anger and frustration with regard to Tibetan human rights, including religious freedom, inside China."

US-based Human Rights Watch also appealed in October for China to end its "excessive restrictions" on Tibetan monastic and lay communities since widespread anti-Chinese protests erupted in Tibetan areas of China in early 2008.

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