04/17/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Young mother sets herself on fire, bringing number of self-immolations to 115

The young woman, Jugtso, leaves a husband and a three-year-old child. The extreme form of protest took place near Jonang Monastery, scene of similar incidents in the past. NGO calls on Beijing to listen.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - A young Tibetan mother burnt herself to death on Tuesday in Sichuan province to protest Chinese rule, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and true religious freedom for the region. The woman, identified as Jugtso (or Chugtso depending on the transliteration), leaves a husband and a three-year-old child. Her death brings the number of Tibetans who took their own life this way to 115.

According to local sources, the suicide took place near Jonang Monastery in Rangtang (Dzamthang in Tibetan), eastern Ngaba (pictured), a predominantly Tibetan area in Sichuan province, scene of many previous self-immolations, including two mothers, Kalkyi, 30, and Rikyo, 33, and two cousins in a separate protest, sources said.

After Jugtso's death, her body was brought to the Monastery.  Following this, local government officials and security forces pressured the family to cremate her remains during the night, in violation of local tradition.

For the moment, "Thousands of local Tibetans and monks are gathering at the monastery and her home to show solidarity with the deceased and her family," a local source noted.

Jugtso's death "shows that even the full force of the Chinese state cannot deter some Tibetans from this act. Self-immolation is a protest, not a suicide, and until China addresses the grievances of the Tibetan people, protests of all forms will continue in Tibet," said Alistair Currie, a spokesman for the British-based Free Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who has been accused by Beijing of "orchestrating" the self-immolations, has repeatedly called on the faithful to value life first and that protest can and should be carried out by other means. At the same time, the religious leader acknowledged that he could not fully comprehend his people's pain.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)

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