10/03/2011, 00.00
TIBET
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Fifth Tibetan monk sets himself on fire in a year for Dalai Lama and religious freedom.

Kalsang was 17 or 18 years old and was holding a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Appeal from international community for the rights of Tibetans. On October 1st, the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, hundreds of Tibetans protest in Sichuan Province.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - A young Tibetan monk set himself on fire today at 2 pm (local time), at the fruit and vegetable market in the town of Ngaba, Sichuan Province. As he burned, Kalsang, 17 or 18 years old, was holding a photograph of the Dalai Lama and calling for the rights and religious freedom in Tibet. The police put out the flames, but the conditions of the young monk from Kirti are still unknown.

"It is tragic that a fifth monk has set fire to himself in Tibet this year - explains Stephanie Bridgen, director of Free Tibet to AsiaNews - A growing number of Tibetans clearly feel that this is the only way that they can be heard. This is an extremely worrying and absolutely unprecedented trend that we hope will end". According to the Bridgen "the international community must help stop this shocking trend by showing Tibetans that there is a determination to protect and promote the rights of Tibetans in Tibet and a road map for doing so".

The Director of Free Tibet adds: "The situation in Ngaba is already tense following the Chinese authorities’ repressive response to the previous self immolations . We hope that China will recognise the failure of such measures to appease Tibetan grievances, and will now respond to Tibetans’ distress in an appropriate, constructive way, in particular by resuming talks for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Tibet. "

There is no way of knowing if there are similar incidents in different parts of Tibet, or if they are part of a broader form of protest. However, the case of Tsewang Norbu, a young monk who set himself on fire last August has come to light. Thanks to word of mouth, and photos sent via cell phones, last 1st October - the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China - hundreds of people staged a protest in Serthar (Kandze Prefecture, Sichuan Province), shouting "We want freedom" and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The protest began after police had pulled a Tibetan flag and a picture of the Dalai Lama from a municipal building.

On that occasion, a leaflet was distributed that read: " Tibetan brethren do not fall asleep under the oppression of the Chinese ... Long Live the Dalai Lama. Victory to Tibet, Victory to Tibet". (NC)

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