02/18/2012, 00.00
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Tibetan monk self-immolates in protest against raid by Chinese authorities

The man set himself on fire at 6 am yesterday, a monastery in the western province of Qinghai. Protesting against the cancellation of a festival of prayer and violations of the place of worship. The patriarch of the Buddhist Church of Vietnam supports the Tibetan struggle: self-immolation an extreme measure, but necessary to awaken consciences.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Tibetan monk set himself on fire yesterday afternoon, to protest against intrusion of Chinese security forces in a monastery in the western province of Qinghai, the man died from severe burns and his gesture has helped to fuel anxiety and anger against Beijing's occupation of the Tibetan region. This is the 22nd confirmed self-immolation, since protests against Chinese policies began in February 2009, according to other sources, the number has reached 25, but there is no official confirmation because of the censorship imposed by China. Meanwhile, the tragic protest by Tibetan Buddhists has gained the support of the highest religious figure in Vietnam, who says the repression in Tibet is "a challenge to all humanity."

Local sources, interviewed by Radio Free Asia (RFA), say that 40-year old monk Damchoe Sangpo, of Bongtak monastery, County Themchen, Tsonub prefecture, set himself on fire at around 6 am yesterday and died shortly after. He wanted to protest against the decision of Chinese authorities, who forced the cancellation of a traditional prayer meeting in the monastery, and the constant presence of security forces. "When the monks left the temple - a monk named Shingsa tells a RFA - at the end of morning prayers, they saw Damchoe burn. He died on the spot."

To try to contain the fires and the daily news of protests, China has imposed strict censorship and the severing of all outside communications. Security forces have implemented a strict control on monasteries and arrested scores of people, if not hundreds. However, the self-immolation still receives the support of influential personalities of international Buddhism.

In a secret letter sent to the Dalai Lama, Thich Quang Do - Vietnamese Buddhists' spiritual leader and head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, from Hanoi haunted - says that the fires may be the only way in the battle for religious freedom against Chinese rule . "Self-immolation is a tragic and extreme gesture - writes the patriarch - and should be avoided at all costs." But there are "times when extreme acts", says the 83 year old monk, such as becoming "a human torch" is the only way to "dispel the darkness and ignorance." In the letter he mentions the most famous case of self-immolation of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, in 1963, during the war: "This gesture from the film released - concludes Thich Quang Do - shocked the conscience of the world."

In all these months, the Dalai Lama has often urged the young Tibetans to preserve their lives and not take part in these extreme measures.


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See also
Tibet, 120th self-immolation: Buddhist nun sets herself on fire against China
Tibet, Chinese police kill a Buddhist monk and his brother
A Tibetan killed, six arrested in protest against Chinese mines
Monk sets himself on fire against Chinese occupation of Tibet. 21st case since March 2009
Two Tibetan teenagers set themselves on fire in Sichuan


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