Two teenagers among three to self-immolate this week
Two teenagers self-immolated and died in the Sichuan province of China on Tuesday marking the third case in a week as rights group said that the spurt in suicide cases was in response to government's crackdown.
Tuesday's victims were identified as Rinchen, 17 and Sonam Dhargye, 18, according to the London-based Free Tibet.
They "set themselves alight in Ngaba, eastern Tibet on February 19 at around 9.30 pm local time. Both teenagers died at the scene and their bodies were taken by their families," the rights group said.
Two days ago, 49-year-old Namlha Tsering set himself alight opposite the county cinema hall in Sangchu County in the Gansu province.
"Eyewitnesses report that he (Tsering) was severely burned and was taken away by security forces who subsequently stated that he had died."
"Namlha Tsering (also known as Hoba) leaves a wife and four sons, the oldest of whom is a monk. Photographs of his protest show him sitting cross-legged in flames in the carriageway of the main road," Free Tibet said.
China has arrested dozens of ethnic Tibetans and indicted several for inciting self-immolations, which the police say are carried out at the behest of the India-based separatist "Dalai Lama-clique."
According to Free Tibet, the latest protests have taken place after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child published its "list of issues to be taken up" with China following hearings in Geneva two weeks ago in which evidence about China's performance protecting the rights of children was considered.
The committee considered a Free Tibet report which included evidence about self-immolations of people under 18 and other abuses of children's rights. The committee has demanded that China answers whether it has "conducted a thorough and independent inquiry" into self-immolations of children in Tibet and asks what the state has done to "identify the reasons for such desperate acts by children and prevent future ones".
Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement: "The actions of these two teenagers show that despite China's recent crackdown, this form of protest is likely to remain a feature of the Tibetan response to Chinese occupation in 2013. It also highlights the plight of Tibet's children, who face all the challenges of life under oppression and are often full participants in the struggle to resist it."