BEIJING: Hundreds of Tibetans in Lhasa have been detained by Chinese security officers after two self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet, a US-broadcaster said, stoking concerns of spreading unrest among Tibetans in China.
On Sunday, two Tibetan men set themselves on fire in Lhasa, state news agency Xinhua said, the first time in four years of a major Tibetan protest against Chinese rule. One of the men died.
China has branded the self-immolators ‘terrorists’ and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting them.
At least 35 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China’s six-decade rule over Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 27 have died.
Late on Thursday, Radio Free Asia cited a source as estimating that about 600 Tibetans had been detained since the Sunday’s protests in Lhasa.
The number could not be independently confirmed because foreign journalists are barred from entering Tibet.
The detentions come amid news that a Tibetan woman had set herself ablaze on Thursday afternoon in Aba prefecture in southwestern Sichuan province, according to Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet and Radio Free Asia.
Experts say Beijing may introduce tighter restrictions to halt the growing unrest in China’s ethnic Tibetan areas.
Beijing considers the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he merely seeks greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. (Reuters)