Just a few days after Tibetan exile leaders made a plea to end the practice, a Tibetan man set himself on fire on Saturday to protest against harsh Chinese rule in west-central Qinghai Province.
The man, who was dressed in Tibetan garb, self-immolated in Dzatoe county in the Yushul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and was then taken by Chinese security forces, reported Radio Free Asia, citing local sources.
“While burning, he shouted various slogans—calling for the independence of Tibet,” a source, who was not named due to security reasons, told the broadcaster.
“He walked past several Tibetan shops in Dzatoe county’s shopping complex with his body on fire,” the source said, adding that local shopkeepers attempted to douse the man with water to put out the fire. Other sources added more gruesome details before he was taken by Chinese authorities.
Exiled Tibetan leaders last week called on Tibetans inside of China to put an end to self-immolations, saying they go against the nonviolent nature of the movement. At least 52 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze since March 2009, most taking place in Sichuan Province and other heavily Tibetan areas, with more than 40 dying.
The most recent self-immolation may have been linked to Chinese authorities forcing local Tibetans to participate in the filming of a movie which depicts Tibetans as being happy under Chinese rule, reported the pro-Tibet Phayul publication, which cited the Tibet Express newspaper. The publication reported that the man who set himself on fire was a 27-year-old man called Yungdrung.
“The Tibetans expressed their unwillingness to take part in the show this year thus leading to the protest by Yungdrung against the Chinese government,” the report said.
The Central Tibetan Administration met in the Indian town of Dharamsala for four days, telling Tibetans “not to take drastic actions” and set themselves on fire.
“Tibet is a thinly populated country, and in the present situation losing even one life is a great loss for the Tibetan people,” the organization said last week, according to RFA. “Please preserve your lives in the future.”
The exiled officials, however, called on China to end its repressive policies against Tibetans in the country, which has led to the deterioration of their culture, religion, and language.
In many Tibetan areas including in Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Chinese security forces have clamped down hard in recent months on dissent and the spreading of information regarding the self-immolations.
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