More security after Tibet protests

Beijing: China is ramping up security in Tibetan areas after a spate of self-immolation protests just as Beijing holds a key political gathering, local residents and overseas rights groups said on Friday.

Armed police in paramilitary vehicles stepped up patrols in Tongren, in the northwestern province of Qinghai, after “thousands of protesters” gathered on the streets on Thursday, London-based Free Tibet said in a statement.

The protests came after six Tibetans set themselves on fire on Wednesday and yesterday, the rights group said.

Vice President Xi Jinping. China has maintained tight security across ethnic Tibetan areas of the country since March 2008, when riots against Chinese rule erupted in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s capital Lhasa and adjacent areas.

The exiled government has been based in India since Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese control. China blames the Dalai Lama — who remains a revered figure among Tibetans in Chian — for fomenting unrest in Tibet and orchestrating the self-immolations. He denies the accusations.

A total of 69 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent years. (AFP)

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