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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Twelfth Tibetan Self-Immolates, but Survives

December 6, 2011

BEIJING — A former Tibetan monk set fire to himself as an anti-China political protest in Tibet’s Chamdo township on Thursday but survived, according to reports on Friday by Tibet advocacy groups. It was the 12th self-immolation by a Tibetan this year and the first inside Tibet.

The former monk, Tenzin Phuntsog, in his 40’s, was from the monastery of Karma, which was founded by the first Karmapa Lama in the 12th century, according to the International Campaign for Tibet, based in Washington.

The monastery is within what China officially calls the Tibet Autonomous Region, a large area on the Tibetan plateau that was the central part of historical Tibet, the former Himalayan kingdom occupied by the Chinese in the 1950’s.

The other self-immolations this year took place to the east, in the neighboring Chinese province of Sichuan, which encompasses parts of regions that Tibetans call Amdo and Kham. All the people were monks or nuns, or formerly of the clergy, and in each case the act appeared to be a protest against Chinese policies.

Earlier this week Reuters reported that two monks from the restive Kirti monastery in Sichuan, home to eight of the other self-immolators, had been detained by Chinese security forces. That report has not been confirmed.

China has denounced the self-immolations as acts of terrorism encouraged by Tibetan exile groups and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet who fled his homeland after the Chinese occupation. Exile groups have called the self-immolations acts of desperate political protest by Tibetans distraught over China’s repression of their religion and culture.

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