05/21/2015, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Tibet, a father of four sets himself on fire in protest against Chinese rule

Self-immolations climb to 140 since 2009, when this extreme form of protest against Beijing first began. Tenzin Gyatso, 35, was taken away by police in critical condition: it is unclear whether he's dead or alive. The central government launches raids and searches in the Tibet ahead of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - An ethnic Tibetan man, married and father of four, set himself on fire in China's Sichuan Province to protest against Beijing’s iron rule in the region of Tibet. It is unclear whether Tenzin Gyatso, 35, survived: local sources say that the police took him away alive, but in critical condition. This extreme protest brings to 140 the total number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in Tibet and neighboring Chinese provinces since 2009, when the wave of suicides first began.

A Tibetan source told Radio Free Asia that the man "set himself on fire near a bridge near the government buildings of Khangsar" in the county of Kardze. While still burning, the source continues, " allocated security personnel area rushed in and put out the fire. They took him away but it is unclear whether it is dead or alive".

According to local residents, Gyatso , became upset when security forces were sent to Khangsar to prevent celebrations of the 80th birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. To mark the occasion, will be celebrated on July 6, 2015, the Tibetan diaspora and the local people intend to hold a "prayer chain" for the wellbeing of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Chinese central government is afraid of new mass protests, and has already started inspections and preventive detentions in the provinces with a strong Tibetan presence. According to the Radio Free Asia source "security forces conducted searches, interrogated several Tibetans, and harassed others”, he added that some Tibetans had been detained for showing "unpleasant face ." This, he concludes, " pushed Gyatso toward self-immolation".

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