Two self-immolations in Tibet

March 5th, 2012 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, March 5 (IANS) A woman and a schoolgirl died after they set themselves afire in Tibet in the past two days to protest China’s policies and to demand freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland, a statement said here Monday.

Rinchen, a mother of four, set herself on fire in front of a police station at the entrance of Kirti Monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet Sunday. She raised slogans demanding freedom and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to Tibet. She died on the spot.

The current situation in Ngaba is tense after the self-immolation as a large number of security forces and police have been deployed in the region, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said in its statement.

It said a day before this incident, Tsering Kyi, a student of a middle school, died after setting herself on fire in Machu in eastern Tibet.

The CTA, a democratically elected body of the exiled Tibetans, said that 25 Tibetans have set themselves on fire calling for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet since 2009 in Tibetan areas mainly in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces bordering Tibet. Of them, 17 have died.

It said Chinese authorities have stepped up the crackdown against suspected dissidents in Tibet in recent months, with young men taken away from homes and families being separated.

The CTA fears more bloodshed and loss of lives in Tibet as the March 10th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising is coming up. In 2008, ahead of Beijing Olympics, deadly anti-government riots rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

Every year, Tibetan exiles worldwide remember March 10 — the day when the Chinese launched a crackdown to suppress an uprising in Tibet.

However, China has held the Dalai Lama responsible for a string of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, saying the Tibetan spiritual leader applauded them.

“According to what I have heard, he (Dalai Lama) publicly applauded the courage of these people who set fire to themselves,” Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said in Beijing March 2.

The Dalai Lama, who China dubs “splittist”, along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.

Some 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in what is now known as Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

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