Tibetan monk dies in self-immolation protest, group says

BEIJING Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:55am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Tibetan Buddhist monk burned himself to death on Monday in southwest China calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader condemned by Beijing as a separatist, a group campaigning for Tibetan self-rule said.

The monk's self-immolation could spark fresh tensions in heavily ethnic Tibetan parts of Sichuan, which neighbors the official Tibet region, following protests in March when a Tibetan monk there also burned himself to death.

The London-based Free Tibet organization said the latest immolation-protest was carried out by a 29-year-old monk, Tsewang Norbu, who was from a monastery in Tawu, about 150 km (93 miles) from where the last immolation happened.

"Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, sprayed petrol on himself and then set himself on fire," Free Tibet said in an emailed statement, citing an unnamed witness.

"He was heard calling out: 'We Tibetan people want freedom', 'Long live the Dalai Lama' and 'Let the Dalai Lama Return to Tibet'. He is believed to have died at the scene," the group said.

China's official Xinhua news agency also reported the monk's self-immolation, but said "it was unclear why he had burned himself."

Tawu, called Daofu in Chinese, is in a largely ethnic Tibetan part of western Sichuan that many advocates of self-rule say should form part of a larger homeland under Tibetan control. Calls from Reuters to the government and police bureau in Daofu County went unanswered on Monday evening.

Tensions over the fate of the exiled Dalai Lama and his calls for Tibetan self-determination have continued to dog the region, sometimes flaring into protests.

In March 2008, Tibetan protests led by monks in Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet proper, were suppressed by police and turned violent. Rioters torched shops and turned on residents, especially Han Chinese, whom many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.

That unrest spilled over into other ethnic Tibetan parts of China, including mountainous western Sichuan.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of being a separatist who has abetted violence. China also rejects accusations of oppression of Tibetans, saying its rule has bought huge benefits to what was a dirt poor society.

The Nobel Peace prize-winning Dalai Lama denies seeking independence for Tibet, saying he wants a peaceful transition to autonomy for his remote mountain homeland, which the People's Republic of China has ruled since troops marched in 1950.

Security forces detained about 300 Tibetan monks from a monastery in western China for a month amid a crackdown sparked the previous self-immolation, two exiled Tibetans and a prominent writer told Reuters at the time.

"Today's news exposes how desperate some Tibetans feel," the director of Free Tibet, Stephanie Brigden, said in the group's email.

After the self-immolation in March, she said, Chinese authorities "deployed troops on to the streets, imposed curfews, undertook house searches and set up military round blocks."

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (4)
bobbruce wrote:
A brutal feudal society, where monks are self-immolating themselves over a fantasy Shangri lai that never existed,except in the Westerner’s minds. How can people encourage this any longer? What kind of spiritual development is being encouraged by these lamas and their fanatic followers that can’t accept that they lost their country 60 years ago because of their own greed and indifference to their people? The west needs to inform themselves about the real Old Tibet, and stop fueling this medieval nonsense. If the west ignored all this, and the Dalai Lama stopped talking about “autonomous Tibet” everywhere he goes, then these monks would start accepting the truth of ‘impermanence” one of the main teachings of the Buddha which they don’t seem to have EVER understood. THAT would be the compassionate thing for the Dalai lama to do. Go into retreat , prepare to die, and stop fueling violence and suffering. KEEP QUIET DALAI LAMA , once and for all instead of your whirlwind “religious tours” that continue to contribute to political and social upheaval amongst both Tibetan’s in exile and in Tibet. Terrible hypocrisy. Religion causes most of the suffering in the world.

Aug 15, 2011 9:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
8811081 wrote:
Tibetan people want freedom; China will never be a great and lasting world power until the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhism are free from China’s precaution. Long life to the Dalai Lama!

Aug 15, 2011 2:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ConchKey wrote:
The American quagmire. Our industries and politicians support communist China by outsourcing jobs there but we oppose the Chinese suppression of freedom. Who wins, China of course, they own us. We are now a communist supported country that reciprocates by supporting communism. Our Democracy vanished years ago when industries, who now have the rights of individuals, chose to hire communists over the working class American, pathetic. The fatal acts of these monks highlights the kind of government our politicians are aiming for.

Aug 15, 2011 6:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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