"Hundreds detained" in Tibet after self-immolations

BEIJING Thu May 31, 2012 3:22am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Hundreds of Tibetans in Lhasa have been detained by Chinese security officers after two self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet, a U.S.-broadcaster said, stoking concerns of spreading unrest among Tibetans in China.

On Sunday, two Tibetan men set themselves on fire in Lhasa, state news agency Xinhua said, the first time in four years of a major Tibetan protest against Chinese rule. One of the men died.

China has branded the self-immolators "terrorists" and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

At least 35 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China's six-decade rule over Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 27 have died.

Late on Wednesday, Radio Free Asia cited a source as estimating that about 600 Tibetans had been detained since the Sunday's protests in Lhasa. The number could not be independently confirmed because foreign journalists are barred from entering Tibet.

Hao Peng, deputy party secretary in the Tibet Autonomous Region, has urged authorities to tighten their grip on the Internet and mobile text messaging, reflecting government fears about unrest during a month-long Buddhist festival which started last week.

The move is the latest in a series of measures the government says are intended to maintain stability.

"Hao Peng stressed that...the trouble caused by the activities of the Dalai clique has persisted, and the situation for stability maintenance is still complicated and grim," the official Tibet Daily newspaper reported.

The detentions come amid news that a Tibetan woman had set herself ablaze on Wednesday afternoon in Aba prefecture in southwestern Sichuan province, according to Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet and Radio Free Asia.

Experts say Beijing may introduce tighter restrictions to halt the growing unrest in China's ethnic Tibetan areas.

Beijing considers the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he merely seeks greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

(This version of the story has been corrected to fix Hao Peng's title, sixth paragraph)

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills and Jonathan Thatcher)

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Comments (4)
Whys333 wrote:
The universal yearning for human liberty can not be ignored, controlled, or destroyed. I’m looking at you, China.

May 31, 2012 2:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
eddyt wrote:
The Chinese have lied about Tibet for 60 years and I see no end in sight. It seems that everyone keeps waiting for the Chinese to change. They are not changing but everyone else it. Not many years ago the US declared Tibet an occupied country and now they’ve changed their tune. The British and even India have flip flopped on this issue time and time again. They all know Tibet is not a part of Chna but they are afraid of the Chinese or they owe them too much money.

May 31, 2012 3:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
haaggus wrote:
The Dalai Lama was a slave-owner and kept his people in abject poverty during his terrible rule. The Communist Chinese are terrible, but at least they brought electricity, schools, roads, hospitals, and running water to the Tibetan land. The Dalai Lama was fine with living a luxurious life amongst the ruling Priest class while 99% of the Tibetan people faced hardships of every kind.

May 31, 2012 1:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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