Two Tibetan teenagers burned themselves to death in the Sichuan area of southwestern China on Monday, pushing the number of deaths by self immolations by those protesting against Chinese rule above the 50 mark.
The pair, one an 18-year-old monk and the other a 17-year-old former monk, died on Monday after setting themselves on fire outside the Kirti monastery in Ngaba, a heavily Tibetan part of Sichuan province, the London-based Free Tibet group said.
At least nine have set themselves afire in Tibetan-dominated areas in August.
The group added: “Lobsang Kalsang, an 18-year-old monk, and Damchoek, a 17-year-old former monk, set themselves alight between 8:30 and 9am (local time) this morning outside Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, Eastern Tibet (2). Both men died this evening (local time), having been taken to Barkham Hospital by Chinese authorities.”
“Free Tibet has grave concerns for the well being of the hundreds of Tibetans who we know are in detention following protests,” Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said.
China has branded the self-immolators “terrorists”, blaming the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, for inciting them.
Authorities also claim that many of these suicides are triggered by family problems and alcoholism.
The government claims all regions in China where ethnic Tibetans live, especially the Tibetan Autonomous Region were on the path to development and separatists were trying to disrupt growth.
Free Tibet claimed that China was also going to “great lengths to create an information blackout in Tibet, banning international journalists and observers, cutting telephone lines, blocking the internet and meting out severe punishments on Tibetans for sharing information.”
It added: “Yonten Gyatso was tortured in detention before being sentenced to seven years for sharing information about a self-immolation (16). Four Tibetan monks were seized by security forces in Tridu (Chinese: Chengdu) and have been disappeared since January. It is believed they may have been suspected of sharing information about a protest.”