A Tibetan writer died after he set himself on fire to protest against Chinese Communist Party rule—the 53rd self-immolation in just a few years.
The writer, a 43-year-old man named Gudrub, set himself ablaze in the central area of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on Thursday, reported the pro-Tibet publication Phayul. It is said he died on the spot, but his body was not given over to his family and apparently is in the custody of local authorities.
According to eyewitness accounts, Gudrub shouted: “Wherever we go, we have no freedom” and “Freedom for Tibet,” Phayul said.
Before his death, Gudrub left a letter: “My brothers and sisters of the land of snows, looking back to our past, there is no happiness, but only regret, anger, sadness, and tears. I pray that the coming new year brings you health, success and fulfillment,” reported The Tibet Post.
One witness told Radio Free Asia via telephone that the man carried out the fiery protest “at a marketplace in Kham Driru” in the morning. “The Chinese police took him away,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
While Gudrub stressed that Tibetans should have “unity,” self-immolations were condemned last week by prominent Tibetan exiles, including Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay. They stressed that the practice does not align with the movement’s stance on nonviolence.
“Tibet is a thinly populated country, and in the present situation losing even one life is a great loss for the Tibetan people,” the exiles said in a meeting in the Indian town of Dharamsala. “Please preserve your lives in the future,” it said.
Self-immolations have become more frequent among Tibetans in China and many have been carried out by monks and nuns near monasteries in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. A Tibetan man set himself on fire earlier in the week in Qinghai, according to reports.
Chinese authorities have cracked down hard on Tibetan regions in the wake of the protests, in what authorities say is meant to “maintain stability” ahead of the once-in-a-generation leadership change in November when Communist Party leader Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are slated to step down. Critics say the term is simply an attempt to justify the violent means used by the authorities when suppressing the rights of those that speak out against the regime.
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