08/13/2012, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Young Tibetan dies after setting himself on fire in Ngaba

He is the third activist to die in a week. The 24-year-old carried out the action in a square in Meruma, a township some 20 kilometres from Ngaba (Sichuan). Police surrounded the area to avoid further incidents.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - A young Tibetan, Choepa, 24, died in Meruma Township, some 20 kilometres from Ngaba (Sichuan Province) after he set himself on fire on Friday in protest against Chinese repression in Tibet.

Local sources said that Choepa died soon after his self-immolation. To avoid disorders, the authorities seized the body, eventually returning his ashes to the family.

Police also surrounded the township to avoid further unrest or more attempts at self-immolation.

On 23 January, the young man had taken part in a protest in Meruma, but was able to avoid arrest.

He is the third activist to take his life in self-immolation in the past week. On 7 August, a woman, Dolkar Tso, set herself on fire in Kanlho (Gansu province) in front of a monastery. On 6 August, Lobsang Tsultrim did the same near Kirti Monastery (Ngaba). He died a few days later in hospital in Barkham.

Since February 2009, 47 Tibetans, both religious and members of the laity, set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese repression and Beijing's tight control over religious practices, which includes closing and opening monasteries at will.

Pro-Tibet activists say that extreme actions will continue until China's grip on Tibetans does not relent, and this despite the Dalai Lama's condemnation of self-immolation.

According to Beijing, those who set themselves on fire are terrorists, rejects or mentally insane, and Tibet's spiritual leader is largely to blame for encouraging young activists to take their own lives.

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