12/05/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Young Tibetan father sets himself on fire calling for an end to Chinese repression

Konchon Tseten, 30, burnt for more than an hour before he was taken away by police. His current condition is unknown. When a group of Tibetans try to defend him, police intervene to arrest people, including his wife and relatives. Tseten's self-immolation is the 124th of its kind since protests began.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - Konchon Tseten, a 30-year-old father of two, set himself on fire in Meruma, a town in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet, to protest against the Chinese regime, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and the end of the Tibetan diaspora.

At present, his fate is unclear. Tseten burnt for more than an hour before he was taken away by the authorities. Security officials also arrested his wife and several of his relatives, as well as a large number of people who had tried to defend him during the self-immolation.

Late Tuesday, "With his body engulfed in flames, Tseten managed to run for a distance along the main street before he collapsed," Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

"While his body was on fire, he called for the long life of the Dalai Lama and appealed for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet," a Tibetan told RFA's Tibetan Service.  "He also called for the reunion of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet."

"Even after he collapsed on the ground, he was seen by local witnesses folding his hands together in prayer and uttering some words that were not audible," the Tibetan said.

"The police arrived at the scene and tried to take him away as he was burning, but the local Tibetans who had gathered at the township resisted and tried to stop the police. This lasted for about one hour before the security forces took him away," another Tibetan said.

Police detained Tseten's wife and several of his relatives, among others. "All the Tibetan stores and restaurants in Meruma town were ordered to be closed and many mobile phones were confiscated from the locals."

Tseten's self-immolation is the 124th of its kind in Tibet since February 2009, when anti-China protests broke out once again to demand full religious freedom and the return home of the Dalai Lama.

Beijing has accused the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism of being the inspiration for these tragic protests; however, the Nobel Peace Prize has repeatedly called on his followers to "respect life more than anything else", (unsuccessfully) asking China to talk with Tibetans on how to stop this series of deaths.

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