Eighth Tibetan sets himself on fire in southwestern China

October 16th, 2011 - 8:19 pm ICT by BNO News  

BEIJING (BNO NEWS) — An Eighth Tibetan man set himself on fire in protest against Chinese rule in the southwestern province of Sichuan on late Saturday morning, a rights group reported on Sunday. His current condition is unknown.

Free Tibet, a group campaigning for an end to the ‘Chinese occupation’ of Tibet, said 19-year-old Norbu Dathul set himself on fire in the main market of Ngaba Town at around 11.50 a.m. local time on Saturday. The former monk reportedly shouted “Tibet needs freedom!” and “His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return” as he burned.

The organization said Chinese police extinguished the flames and took him away in a police car, although there were unconfirmed reports that Dathul may have been beaten as he was taken away. His condition and whereabouts are unknown, although Free Tibet cited eyewitnesses as saying that he suffered severe burns.

“This is the eighth self-immolation in protest at the persecution of Tibetans under Chinese rule since March this year,” said Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden. “It provides further evidence that Tibetans now feel that setting fire to themselves is their only recourse.”

Bridgen added: “The international community has failed the Tibetan people in their 60 year struggle for freedom. We must now hold China accountable for its gross human rights violations in Tibet and demonstrate a genuine determination to end this oppression.”

Since March, seven current and former monks have set themselves on fire in Ngaba Town while another monk set himself on fire in Tawu, which is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Ngaba. At least four of them died, while the conditions of the four others remain unknown.

The first incident happened on March 16 when 21-year-old Phuntsog from Kirti Monastery set himself on fire in Ngaba. It happened on the third anniversary of protests in Ngaba during which at least 13 people were shot dead by Chinese security forces. Phuntsog later died.

Earlier this week, Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay expressed his concern about the incidents. “The incidents are a clear indication of the genuine grievances of the Tibetans and their sense of deep resentment and despair over the prevailing conditions in Tibet,” he said. “It is therefore of the utmost urgency that every possible effort be made to address the underlying root causes of Tibetan grievances and resentment.”

The Dalai Lama has resided in the Indian city of Dharamsala, which is now the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, since 1960 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet. Dharamsala is sometimes also referred to as ‘Little Lhasa’, referring to the capital of Tibet.

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