Tibetan Self-Immolates, Others Arrested

Voice of America reports that yet another Tibetan has perished after self-immolating in Ngaba county, Sichuan province – a region with a majority population of ethnic Tibetans and long a hotbed for protest against Chinese rule:

A 27-year-old Tibetan man has died after setting himself on fire today in China protest. Tsering Dhondup self-immolated today around at 3.15pm local time in Drachen Yultso village, Chungchu township in Ngaba county (Chinese: Aba).

His father and many of his relatives are known to be working Chinese government officials.

Today’s incident brings the total number of since 2009 to 97.  including 81 last year in protest against China’s strict control over Tibet’s Buddhist culture and a suffocating security presence in Tibetan regions.

This comes less than a week after a Tibetan man died after self-immolating in Gansu province. At The Guardian, Tania Branigan reports that seven Tibetan “abetters” have been detained for organizing and encouraging self-immolations, including one that occurred in Gansu in October:

Chinese police have detained seven people for helping persuade a Tibetan villager to set fire to himself, state media report. The move is the latest attempt by authorities to curb the spate of in western China.

[…]The state news agency Xinhua said officers in Gansu province, north-west China, believed the fatal self-immolation in October of 26-year-old Sangye Gyatso, in Hezuo city, was “masterminded by key members of the Tibetan Youth Congress of the overseas Dalai clique”, according to a statement.

The officers allege a friend of Sangye Gyatso who had joined a monastery in India – where many Tibetans and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, live in exile – had introduced him to ideas about Tibetan independence when he made a trip home to China.

The trend of self-immolation in protest of Chinese policies have been consuming the lives of Tibetans since 2009, though the frequency of occurrences spiked in late 2011. A scholarly debate has emerged around the efficacy and religious orthodoxy of this method of dissent. Recently Wang Lixiong, husband of prominent Tibetan blogger Woeser, analyzed the last words of self-immolators in an attempt to uncover their motives.

Also see prior CDT coverage of Tibet protest and self-immolation.

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