02/25/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA

Young Tibetan man sets himself on fire in monastery in Qinghai

Phakmo Dhondup self-immolates in protest against Beijing's hard-line stance against Tibet. In his 20s, he was taken to hospital with burns on much of his body. Security forces impose restrictions on the area of the incident. Monasteries organise special prayers for his prompt recovery.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A young Tibetan man torched himself at a monastery in Qinghai province at 8 pm on Sunday in protest against Beijing's hard-line policy in Tibet, triggering an immediate security clampdown in Tsapon Township Tsoshar Prefecture, Bayan Khar County, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital with serious burns, local witnesses said.

Phakmo Dhondup, who hailed from Upper Sakar village close to the Jachung monastery, is the 105th Tibetan so far to self-immolate since early 2009, when Tibetans began using this extreme form of protest in order to demand religious freedom, self-government, and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.  

"Monks at the monastery are conducting special prayers for his recovery," sources said. At the same time, hundreds of security forces have arrived at the monastery and imposed restrictions.

Most self-immolations have occurred in provinces like Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu, bordering on Tibet. Out of 105 cases, more than 20 involved underage protesters or 18-year-olds.

In dealing with the situation, Chinese authorities have opted for an iron-fist approach. Instead of listening to the protesters, Beijing has blamed the suicides on the Dalai Lama and his "gang".

They have also introduced harsher measures against anyone planning self-immolation or just talking about in public.

In recent weeks, a Chinese court sentenced 15 Tibetans, including many Buddhist monks, to jail terms of up to 13 years.

Today, another young Tibetan self-immolated. Tsesung Kyab, 27, set himself on fire in front of Shetsang Monastery, Shetsang township, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He died at the scene.

Chinese Public Security Bureau personnel tried to remove the body but were prevented by local people who took it to his home village of Chokhor.

Today is the last day of the Molam festival, one of Tibetan Buddhism's main festivities.

 

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