Thursday, June 13, 2024
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China police shoot Tibetans, nun burns to death

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BEIJING: Chinese police shot and wounded two Tibetan protesters in China last Sunday, and a Tibetan nun burned herself to death the following day, a group advocating self-determination for Tibet said, the latest incidents in months of protests.

The self-immolation and the protests would appear to signal that anger is growing in Aba prefecture, a mainly ethnic Tibetan part of the southwestern province of Sichuan that has been the centre of defiance of Chinese control.

Rights groups say the unrest could lead to a crackdown in Aba, which erupted in violence in March 2008 when Buddhist monks and other Tibetans loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama, their traditional religious leader, confronted police and troops.

The condition and whereabouts of the two protesters who were shot and wounded, Dawa and Druklo, were not known, the London-based Free Tibet group said.

On Monday, a 20-year-old nun, Tenzin Wangmo, set fire to herself outside a nunnery in the same region, the ninth self-immolation this year in Tibetan parts of China, Free Tibet said.

The nun had called for religious freedom in Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, as she set herself alight, the Free Tibet group said.

Her death comes seven months after a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Phuntsog, 21, from the restive Kirti monastery, burned himself to death. As a result, security forces detained about 300 monks for a month.

A Sichuan government propaganda official told Reuters she knew nothing about the latest two cases.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin also said he had no information about the latest self-immolation.

”We believe that promoting and encouraging harm to life is immoral,” Liu said at a regular news briefing. (UNI)

Liu did not elaborate but last week he criticised the Dalai Lama for not only failing to denounce the self-immolations but for playing them up and even asking people to ”follow the example”.

The self-immolation attempts ”showed signs of having been instigated by a clique jockeying for power in the overseas Tibetan community under the Dalai Lama”, state news agency Xinhua said, citing officials from Aba’s religious affairs bureau.

The Xinhua report quoted bureau head Song Tendargye as saying that the Tibetan community in Aba was ”disgusted” that the former ”living Buddha” of the Kirti monastery in Aba had led prayer services for those who had attempted self-immolation.

Nine ethnic Tibetans, eight of them from Aba prefecture, have burned themselves since March to protest against religious controls by the Chinese government, which labels the Dalai Lama a violent separatist. The Dalai Lama denies the charges.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement late on Monday her group had ”grave concerns that greater force may be deployed if protests spread”.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops marched in in 1950.

But it rejects the criticism of rights groups and exiled Tibetans, saying its rule has bought much needed development to a poor and backward region. Reuters

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