07/10/2012, 00.00
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Lhasa: after self-immolation, young Tibetan disappears

Once taken by Chinese police, man disappears. Aged 22 or 23, burns cover 90 per cent of his body. He called for the return of the Dalai Lama and protested against Chinese rule. This is the third self-immolation near the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Lhasa (AsiaNews/RFA) - A Tibetan man set himself on fire in a village outside of Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, to demand the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and protest against Chinese rule, sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA). The incident is thought to have occurred last Saturday, but it was only reported today.

His identity and conditions could not be confirmed, though he is believed to be 22 or 23 years old and a resident of Chode village, in Damshung County (Lhasa Prefecture). He is 43rd person to engage in self-immolation since February 2009, the third near Lhasa.

The young man apparently set himself on fire midday. Chinese police intervene almost immediately, taking him to Damshung hospital. With 90 per cent burns on his body, he was moved to a better-equipped facility in Lhasa, sources told RFA. Since then, his whereabouts are unknown.

Tibetan government-in-exile sources tried to contact the hospital and police in Damshung for news but without success.  Police even denied the incident had even occurred.

Still, security increased in the county. All phone lines have been cut off and those in Lhasa city cannot reach friends or families in Damshung.

This is the third self-immolation near the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The first two occurred on 27 May this year. Tobgye Tseten is thought to have died soon after his self-immolation. The second man, Dargye, apparently survived.

After the latest incident, Chinese authorities again beefed up security in the city. "Tibetans who are not residents of Lhasa need five different permits to stay there and the restrictions are more intense on those Tibetans who come from the Kham and Amdo regions," a source said.

Since 2009, most self-immolations have occurred in Tibetan-populated areas of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.

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