Tibetan student dies after self-immolation in Tsoe

Lhamo Tashi in an undated file photo.

Lhamo Tashi in an undated file photo. The 22-year-old student died after setting himself on fire in front of a police station in Tsoe (Ch: Hezuo county) on 17 September 2014. Photographer unknown


BEIJING, China, 22 September 2014

A Tibetan man has burned himself to death in northwest China, overseas media and a campaign group reported on Monday, the latest in a string of self-immolation protests in recent years against Beijing’s control.

Student Lhamo Tashi died after setting himself on fire in front of a police station in Tsoe (Ch: Hezuo county), a Tibetan-populated area of Gansu province, the Britain-based Free Tibet group said, citing locals.

At least 130 Tibetans have set themselves alight in China since 2009, according to tallies by campaign groups and RFA, in what rights groups call protests against government repression in the region.

The last such reported self-immolation was in April.

News of Tashi’s fatal burning on Wednesday emerged only at the weekend, due to a communication clampdown imposed by Chinese authorities, US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) said.

Tashi “did it for Tibetan freedom and died in the self-immolation,” RFA cited a local source as saying.

His body was taken and cremated by local authorities, Free Tibet and RFA said, in violation of local funeral customs.

Many Tibetans complain of economic discrimination and tight controls on the local Buddhist religion.

China says it grants widespread religious freedoms in Tibet and says its rule has brought social and economic benefits.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has described the self-immolations as acts of desperation that he is powerless to stop.

Beijing, however, accuses him of encouraging the acts to further a separatist agenda.

“The death of Lhamo Tashi shows that Tibetans remain willing to take their own lives in response to China’s occupation,” Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said in a statement.

Five Tibetans died after police opened fire on unarmed protesters last month in Kardze, a Tibetan-majority area of Sichuan province, according to previous reports.

The Dalai Lama last week hailed President Xi Jinping as “more open-minded” as the Chinese leader visited India for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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