Monks set themselves alight in China

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Beijing - Two Tibetan monks in China have set themselves on fire to protest at a 2008 crackdown, overseas groups and reports said, adding to a string of self-immolation protests in recent years.

Lobsang Palden carried out the act on Sunday on “Heroes Street” in Aba county of Sichuan province, said the British-based advocacy organisation Free Tibet and the US outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Both groups said the road is so called because several such incidents have occurred there.

Police soon arrived, put out the fire and took Palden away, and his condition was not currently known, both organisations said, adding that security in the area had been tightened.

Free Tibet said Palden was in his 20s, while RFA said he was 20.

Another monk set himself alight the same day in the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities.

The monk was from the Shaderi Monastery, Xinhua said, without giving his name or his medical condition.

At least 120 Tibetans in China have set themselves alight since 2009, according to Free Tibet and RFA.

March is a sensitive month for Tibetans, who live in Qinghai and Sichuan as well as Tibet proper. Their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled China on March 10, 1959, following a failed uprising.

In March 2008, deadly riots erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and spread to other areas.

Palden sought to mark the anniversary of a March 16, 2008, crackdown by Aba police who fired into a crowd and killed several people, both sources said.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of encouraging self-immolations to further a separatist agenda.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace laureate who lives in India, has described the self-immolations as acts of desperation that he is powerless to stop.

Rights groups call the protests a reaction to Beijing's tight control over Tibetans' rights, including the exercise of religion. - Sapa-AFP


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