Ti­betan self-im­mo­lates in China: Rights group

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A man has self-im­mo­lated in protest against China’s pres­ence in Ti­bet while call­ing for the re­turn of the Dalai Lama, a rights group said yes­ter­day, the first Ti­betan to set them­selves on fire since March. Hor­rific video footage on­line showed the man, aged in his thir­ties and named by The International Cam­paign for Ti­bet as Tashi Rabten, walk­ing down the road in north­west China’s Maqu re­gion with his en­tire body en­gulfed in flames while a passerby re­cited prayers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ti­betan gov­ern­ment in ex­ile based in In­dia, Rabten is the 145th Ti­betan to self-im­mo­late since 2009. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, who col­lected his charred re­mains, could not be reached for com­ment. Rabten’s wife, two of his chil­dren and sev­eral other fam­ily mem­bers were placed in de­ten­tion by lo­cal po­lice af­ter they went to claim the body, ac­cord­ing to rights group Free Ti­bet.

“Hav­ing lost a fa­ther and a hus­band, Tashi Rabten’s fam­ily now find them­selves in de­ten­tion. The cru­elty of this sys­tem knows no bounds,” Free Ti­bet said in a state­ment. “The only crime they have com­mit­ted is to be the fam­ily of some­one who has em­bar­rassed China by once again re­mind­ing the world that their oc­cu­pa­tion and these hu­man rights abuses cause Ti­betans real pain. And some­times this pain pushes Ti­betans to make the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice,” it added.

Bei­jing says its troops “peace­fully lib­er­ated” Ti­bet in 1951, but many Ti­betans ac­cuse the cen­tral gov­ern­ment of re­li­gious re­pres­sion and erod­ing their cul­ture.

Ti­betan spir­i­tual leader the Dalai Lama fled into ex­ile af­ter a failed up­ris­ing in 1959. Ti­betan monks within China have re­ported a cam­paign of gov­ern­ment in­tim­i­da­tion tar­get­ing the fam­ily and friends of those who set them­selves on fire. Ac­cord­ing to The International Cam­paign for Ti­bet, Tashi Rabten, a for­mer monk, had a cousin who self-im­mo­lated in the ex­act same street in 2012. In March this year two Ti­betans, a monk in China and a teenager in In­dia, set them­selves on fire to protest Bei­jing’s con­trol of the Hi­malayan re­gion. — AFP

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