Vigil held for wave of Tibet self-immolations

Exiled Tibetans gather in India to mourn seven compatriots who set themselves on fire last week to protest Chinese rule.

    Vigil held for wave of Tibet self-immolations
    Two Tibetan cousins were among the seven who set themselves on fire in India and China last week [Al Jazeera]

    Exiled Tibetans in India have held a vigil for four of their compatriats who were among the seven Tibetan Buddhists who have set themselves on fire in the past week.

    The Saturday evening vigil in Dharamsala town of India's northern Himachal Pradesh was organised by the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC), a group that has urged the United Nations to intervene into China's rule over Tibet so as to put an end to the self-immolations.

    Lhamo Tseten, 24-year-old Tibetan farmer, died on Friday from self-immolation near a military base and a government
    office. Later on Friday, Tsepag Kyab, 21, also set fire to himself and died.

    "Yesterday, while we were sitting here, while we were standing here and saying our prayers for Lhamo Tseten, he gave up his life yesterday in the afternoon. And in the evening very quickly we put together this candle light vigil, we were saying prayers, but we did not know at that moment what was happening.

    "But while we were going out of here, immediately people started receiving this information that another Tibetan has set himself on fire yesterday in the evening, while were doing the prayers here, and he has died," said Tsundue.

    China incidents

    In China, a rights group reported on Saturday that two Tibetan cousins had set themselves on fire in the northwest.

    Tsepo, 20 and Tenzin, 25, called for independence for Tibet as they set themselves ablaze in front of a government
    building in their village, north of regional capital Lhasa on Thursday, the London-based group Free Tibet said.

    One of the cousins died as he was being taken to hospital but the whereabouts and condition of the other was not immediately known, the London-based group said in a statement on Saturday.

    "It has taken two days for information about this latest protest to emerge," Stephanie Brigden, Free Tibet director, said.

    "Chinese state security forces have been deployed in large numbers across [the area]... Tibetans are afraid to talk about what is happening because they fear that their communications are being monitored by the government."

    Last week saw a total of seven self-immolation incidents, a significant number since the latest wave of anti-China protests erupted in the region.

    About 60 ethnic Tibetans, many of them monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire in China since February 2009 to protest against Beijing's rule in Tibet.

    Only a small minority are thought to have survived.

    Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of enacting religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country's majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.

    China rejects this, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom.

    The People's Republic points to ongoing investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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