Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - The dawn of a new year has not stopped the wave of self-immolations in Tibet. A local teenager burnt himself to death Saturday calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and liberation from Chinese rule. Identified only as Tseba, the 19-year-old man set himself on fire in Achok Township in Sangchu County, the scene of numerous Tibetan demonstrations and self-immolation protests last year.
"He called for the return of [the Tibetan spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama to Tibet, saying, 'May he live long, and Tibet needs freedom'," a local source told Radio Free Asia. "He died due to severe burns and the Tibetans took possession of his body and carried it to his home," another source added.
The latter is important because Communist authorities always try to seize the body of people who self-immolate to prevent possible commemorations or protests.
At the same time, in Tibetan Buddhism, a body buried without mantras will not come back to earth, but will be stuck in limbo, far from any human or spiritual contact.
Tseba's self-immolation is the first of the year, the 96th of the latest wave.
"Today's events demonstrate that Tibetan rejection of the Chinese occupation is as strong as ever," said Stephanie Brigden, director of Free Tibet, a London-based advocacy group.
"The new Chinese leadership and the international community cannot allow demands for freedom to continue to go unheeded. 2013 must be the year where positive change comes to Tibet," she said.