Another Tibetan in western China self-immolates

BEIJING — A Tibetan farmer set himself ablaze in front of a market in remote northwest China in the second self-immolation death near the Labrang Monastery in two days, a rights group said.

The monastery in Gansu province’s Xiahe county is one of the most important outside of Tibet and was the site of numerous protests by monks following deadly ethnic riots in Tibet in 2008 that were the most sustained Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in decades.

The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in an email that Dorje Rinchen, a farmer in his late 50s, set himself on fire Tuesday on the main street in Xiahe and died later.

The group sent a photo allegedly showing Dorje wrapped in blankets after the immolation, his neck and head badly charred and swollen. It was not clear whether he was still alive when the blurry, poorly lit picture was taken.

The group quoted a Tibetan from Xiahe who currently lives in exile as saying that Dorje had counseled young Tibetans not to self-immolate.

A woman who answered the phone at the Xiahe Public Security Bureau refused to answer questions about the self-immolation and the phone of the local Communist Party propaganda office rang unanswered Wednesday. The number for the Labrang Monastery appeared to not be in service.

On Monday, a Tibetan herdsman died after setting himself on fire near the monastery.

Dozens of Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in ethnic Tibetan areas of China in protest over what activists say is Beijing’s heavy-handed rule in the region. Many have called for the return of their spiritual leader, the exiled Dalai Lama. The government has confirmed some, but not all, of the self-immolations.

Chinese authorities routinely deny Tibetan claims of repression and have accused supporters of the Dalai Lama of encouraging the self-immolations. The Dalai Lama and representatives of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India say they oppose all violence.

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