Following the self-immolation of a Tibetan artist, thousands of Tibetans took part in protests against Chinese rule in Qinghai Province, prompting the Chinese Communist Party to deploy throngs of security forces to the region.
“Soon after the self immolation incident, security forces poured into the town and patrolled the streets and the situation was tense,” a source, who was not named, told Radio Free Asia.
Chinese security officials warned the gathering Tibetans to not spread information about the self-immolation, according to RFA.
The thousands of Tibetans converged on the grave site of 25-year-old traditional artist Dorjee Lhundup, who set himself on fire on Sunday to protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group, Dorjee was also a farmer and had two children.
“Many people gathered in the place where he set fire to himself, and then a number of monks went there too. They protected his corpse from Chinese police and troops, and brought him to the monastery where monks and laypeople prayed for him,” a source was quoted by the rights group as saying.
Since 2009, at least 63 Tibetans, including many monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire. The frequency of the self-immolations have only increased in recent months.
The exiled Tibetan leadership have called on Tibetans living inside China to put an end to the practice, saying that their lives are too precious to throw away. Some have continued to burn themselves.
Rights groups and the exiled government have said that China’s repressive policies in Tibetan areas, including the destruction of Tibet’s culture, religion, and language are the reasons why people have set themselves on fire.
Last Friday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for the first time called on the Chinese regime to address Tibetans’ concerns and “rights violations” that have triggered the rise in self-immolations.
She cited a case earlier this month in which a 17-year-old Tibetan girl was severely beaten by Chinese authorities for distributing fliers calling for freedom for Tibet. Others, including monks, have been sentenced to long jail terms for distributing photos, writing reports, and making films relating to Chinese communist repression of Tibetans.
Pillay reiterated concerns expressed by the exiled Tibetan government on the self-immolations.
“I recognize Tibetans’ intense sense of frustration and despair which has led them to resort to such extreme means,” Pillay said, “but there are other ways to make those feelings clear.”
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