Another young Tibetan set himself on fire on Sunday, this time in western Qinghai Province, in the latest fiery protest against the Chinese regime, according to Tibetan sources.
This is the 105th self-immolation since February 2009, and triggered local Chinese Communist Party officials to implement a security crackdown in Tsapon township in Tsoshar prefecture, located in Qinghai’s Bayan Khar county, where the self-immolation reportedly took place.
The self-immolator was identified as Phakmo Dhondup, in his 20s, by Radio Free Asia, which cited a Tibetan source. Dhondup set himself on fire at Jachung monastery and was immediately taken to a hospital for serious burns, but it is unclear if his injuries were life-threatening.
Like many others who have burned themselves, a Tibetan source told the broadcaster that Dhondup “self-immolated in protest against the hardline Chinese policy in Tibet.” Many of the self-immolators have called for an increase in personal and religious freedoms in China, while calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
“Monks at the monastery are conducting special prayers for his recovery,” the source told RFA, and added, “At the same time, several hundred security forces have arrived at the monastery and imposed restrictions.”
A source told Voice of America’s Tibetan service that Chinese authorities deployed a large number of security forces at Jachung monastery where monks are praying for Dhondup.
The burning comes after the Chinese regime tightened its grip on Tibetan areas, arresting dozens of Tibetans allegedly connected with the self-immolations. Chinese authorities have also commonly cut telecommunications in Tibetan areas after a burning has taken place, attempting to prevent information from spreading about the incident.
On Saturday, it was reported that 20-year-old Tibetan Ngawang Thupden was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labor for possessing photos of two Tibetans who set themselves on fire. He was arrested in October, but his family learned only recently that he was charged with “subversion” by Chinese authorities, RFA reported.
“The relatives said there weren’t any court proceedings nor were family and relatives informed when he was sentenced,” Tibetan exile Yeshi Gyaltsen told the broadcaster.
But the regime’s crackdown has not stemmed the tide of self-immolations, as six Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China this month alone. In the most recent case, two teenagers burned themselves in Sichuan Province on Thursday night.
The burning of the two teenagers underscores just how young some of the Tibetan self-immolators are. RFA estimates that 22 were aged 18 or younger. Rights groups say these young Tibetans are fed up with the continual human rights violations at the hands of the Communist Party.
Exiled Tibetan leaders have called on Tibetans living inside China not to carry out self-immolations or undertake other drastic actions against the regime, but said Communist Party policies have forced them into a desperate situation with few ways out. They have also denied involvement in the self-immolations.
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