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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

World

Two Tibetan monks self-immolate in China, toll crosses 100
Sutirtho Patranobis , Hindustantimes.com
Beijing, April 25, 2013
First Published: 08:41 IST(25/4/2013)
Last Updated: 23:14 IST(25/4/2013)

Two Tibetan monks died after setting themselves on fire in south China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday, rights groups have said.

The latest cases have taken the toll of Tibetans who have committed protest suicides against what they perceive as China’s hardline rule and demanding the return of the community’s India-based spiritual guru, Dalai Lama, to well over 100.

Most of those who have self-immolated are monks though several civilians have also set themselves on fire; majority of the cases have been reported after 2011.

The two monks, in their early '20s, were identified as Kunchok Woser and Lobsang Dawa. The incident happened at the Kirti monastery in Aba county of Sichuan province, rights group said.

Several of the self-immolation cases have been taken place in the same monastery.

"A person dousing themselves in gasoline and setting themselves alight may no longer be unexpected in occupied Tibet but each individual’s choice to undertake this most extreme form of protest remains deeply important," Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said in a statement.

She added: "All the Tibetans who resort to self-immolation do so because they feel they have no other way to make China and the world listen to their country’s call for freedom: as yet, China is still turning a deaf ear but the rest of the world must not."

According to Radio Free Asia, monks at the monastery held prayers for the two who died and their bodies were to be cremated on Thursday.

The majority of the self-immolations since 2011 have taken place in ethnic Tibetan areas outside Tibet, many in Aba county.

The Chinese government does not allow international media in Tibet and the Chinese authorities have only confirmed few of the cases; in all instances the cause of suicide was ascribed to personal reasons.

For the first time in January this year, eight ethnic Tibetans including a monk were convicted on charges of "intentional homicide" in two separate court verdicts for allegedly inciting people to self-immolate.

The accused were sentenced to three to 12 years in prison; in one case the accused monk was given a suspended death sentence.

Rights groups had decried the arrests and convictions, alleging that confessions were often extracted under duress.


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