[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Tibetan sets herself on fire in China protest
A mother burns herself to death in China's southwest, the latest in a series of self-immolations in the country.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2012 02:55
Nearly two dozenTibetans set themselves on fire in the past year, activists say [Reuters] 

Tibetan woman has set herself on fire in southwestern China to protest against Chinese rule, a Tibetan rights group said, the latest in a series of self-immolations that signal growing unrest in the Tibetan areas of China.

The incident on Sunday came a day before China's annual parliamentary session - an occasion often used by authorities to clamp down on potential sources of unrest and project political unity.

Campaign group Free Tibet said the woman, identified as Rinchen, a 32-year-old mother of four, died after setting herself ablaze on Sunday morning near a monastery in Sichuan province.

The Kirti monastery in Aba county, known as Ngaba in Tibetan, has been at the forefront of pro-Tibetan protests in recent months including several self-immolations.

Local officials were unable to confirm or deny the incident.

Rinchen is the 23rd Tibetan to self-immolate in the past year. At least 16 are believed to have died from their injuries, according to rights groups. Most were Buddhist monks.

Destabilising challenge

Zorgyi, a Tibetan researcher living in exile in India's Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, said  Rinchen was a widowed housewife, whose eldest child was 13 years old and the youngest an infant.

"According to the eyewitness, she shouted some slogans during her self-immolation: 'Return the Holiness to Tibet' and 'We need freedom in Tibet'," Zorgyi said.

"She was dead on the spot, according to the eyewitness. The local people and the monks took the body to the monastery."  

Self-immolations are a small but potentially destabilising challenge to China's regional policies, and the government has branded those who set themselves alight as "terrorists".

Activists say China violently stamps out religious freedom and culture in Tibet, the mountainous region of western China which has been under Chinese control since 1950.

China rejects criticism that it is eroding Tibetan culture and faith, saying its rule has ended serfdom and brought development to a backward region.

China's top official in Tibet has urged authorities to tighten their grip on the Internet and mobile phones, state media reported last Thursday, reflecting the government's fears about unrest ahead of its annual parliamentary session.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.