Two Tibetan Youths Self-Immolate Over Chinese ‘Repression’

(RTTNews): Two Tibetan youths have died after they set themselves on fire in south-west China in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibet.

Thirty-four Tibetans have so far self-immolated, mostly in the restive south-western province of Sichuan, since a young monk at the Kirti monastery ended his life in a similar manner in March, 2011 to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

The men in their twenties set on fire on Thursday close to a local government office in Barma township near a Buddhist monastery in the town of Aba, which is known as Ngaba in Tibetan, reports quoting U.S.-based rights group International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said.

ICT said exile Tibetan sources identified the victims as Choepak Kyap and Sonam, both related, and belonging to herder families living in a rugged area. Although paramilitary troops were deployed immediately, they had to back off as local people continued to gather. The bodies were taken to the monastery for cremation after prayers and funeral services.

The dual self-immolation occurred in the same place where a student was killed when police fired into a crowd of Tibetans on January 26. The crowd had gathered to protest the detention of another young Tibetan, who was arrested for posting leaflets stating that the self-immolation protests were calls for Tibetan freedom and for the return of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and that this form of protest would continue until authorities met these demands.
Late last year, two international human rights organizations urged the Chinese government to address the underlying causes of self-immolation, a way of protest to draw global attention to the persistent and brutal violations Tibetans suffer under Chinese occupation.

In a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Chinese government to have a comprehensive review of the human rights situation across the Tibetan plateau and to end legal and policy restrictions that breach human rights in the region.

The self-immolations have appeared to be in protest against restrictions on basic freedoms and punitive security measures imposed on a number of monasteries in the area, Amnesty and HRW said. Tibetans have continued to set themselves on fire despite a crackdown by the authorities.

The Chinese government has responded to the protests with mass arrests, imprisonment, and possible killings by security forces. Those arrested included 300 monks from Kirti monastery, who the authorities said were taken away for “patriotic education.”

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