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New Self-Immolation Amid Tensions

February 10, 2012

February 8, 2012— Another Tibetan protester set himself ablaze Wednesday to protest Chinese rule in a Tibetan-populated area of China’s western Sichuan province, according to Tibetan sources in exile.

Twenty-one Tibetans, mostly monks and former monks, have set fire to themselves in a wave of self-immolation protests in ethnic Tibetan regions of China since March 2009 as Beijing has stepped up a crackdown on monasteries amid charges of human rights abuses.

Wednesday's self-immolation took place at 6:30 p.m. local time at the No. 2 primary school in the main town of Ngaba county, in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture, India-based monks Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering said in a statement to RFA, citing contacts in the region.

The still-unidentified Tibetan man shouted slogans before self-immolating, they said.

“The protester appeared to be a monk,” Yeshe and Tsering said, quoting a source, “but his name and place of origin and other details are not known.”

“He was immediately taken away by soldiers and police,” they said, adding that two other monks were detained in the vicinity.

“Their identities are also unknown,” Yeshe and Tsering said.

Global protests, prayers

Security in Ngaba particularly has been extremely tight as Tibetans across the globe planned prayers and protests on Wednesday to pay respect to compatriots who have sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause.

"The Tibetans in Tibet are aware of the exile Tibetans' global solidarity protest today, and as a result there was a massive security presence in Ngaba. During the daytime, almost no Tibetans were seen in the street," Tsering told RFA by telephone from the Indian town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama has been living in exile.

"This self-immolation took place in the evening, when the security forces had considerably withdrawn from the scene," he said, citing contacts in the region.

"The scene of the self-immolation protest was not in a public gathering square. It was in a little secluded area. The news is confirmed by five different sources, from Bejing, Tibet, and in exile," he said.

Rising tensions

The latest self-immolation protest came five days after sources said that three Tibetans set themselves on fire in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county, also in Sichuan province.

Serthar was among three counties in Sichuan province where Tibetans protested against Chinese rule two weeks ago in which rights and exile groups believe at least six were killed and 60 injured, some critically. The other counties were Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) and Dzamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang).

Official Chinese media reported only two Tibetans were killed in the incidents after "mobs" armed with, guns, knives, and stones attacked local police.

Tensions have risen in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and in Tibetan-populated areas of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces following a recent wave of protests against Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

Chinese authorities have ramped up security across Tibetan areas following the protests, sources said.

Telephone and other communication links to the protest areas have mostly been cut.

Reported by Rigdhen Dolma and Dorjee Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan service. Written in English by Richard Finney.
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