News24

Two Tibetans burn themselves to death

2012-04-20 09:01

Beijing - Two more Tibetans died after setting themselves on fire in a restive southwestern region of China, a rights group said on Friday, the latest in a wave of such protests against Beijing's rule.

A total of 34 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, are now reported to have attempted to kill themselves in the same way since the start of 2011 over what they see as Chinese repression of their culture.

Many of them have reportedly died from severe burns.

The self-immolations by a pair of young Tibetan men occurred on Thursday in the prefecture of Aba, in a rugged area of Sichuan province, overseas Tibetan rights groups said.

The US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and a Tibetan Buddhist monk in the area said both had died.

The incidents sparked increased security in the town of Barma, where the immolations took place in front of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, rights groups said.

Tight security

Local authorities either refused to comment when contacted by AFP or calls to government offices went unanswered.

The dead pair were identified by rights groups as Sonam and Choephak Kyap, saying they were laypeople in their 20s.

The town had been tense since January, when police fired into a crowd, killing one person, ICT said.

China has imposed tight security to contain simmering discontent in Tibetan regions since 2008, when deadly rioting against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet's capital Lhasa and spread to neighbouring Tibetan-inhabited regions.

Authorities on Thursday publicly recognised 6 773 "patriotic and law-abiding" Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in a ceremony in Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital.

Many Tibetans in China complain of religious repression and a gradual erosion of their culture blamed on a growing influx of majority Han Chinese to their homeland.

China denies any repression and says it has improved the lives of Tibetans with investment in infrastructure, schools and housing and by spurring economic growth.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, of inciting the self-immolations in a bid to split the vast Himalayan region from the rest of the nation, a charge he denies.