Chinese authorities have threatened to block aid to families and villages of Tibetans who burn themselves to death in protest against Chinese rule, a rights group said Thursday, as another self-immolation occurred in a restive Tibetan county in Qinghai province.
Lhubum,18, burned himself to death on a street in Dowa township in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a source told RFA's Tibetan service.
Local residents surrounded Lhubum's body to prevent the police from taking it away, the source said. Later, they brought the body to his residence for funeral prayers.
Lhubum's death brings to 79 the total number of self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.
Chinese authorities seem to be increasingly concerned over the rising number of burnings, particularly in Rebgong where there had been eight self-immolations so far this month.
In a reflection of their concern, they have cut Internet links to the area to prevent more protests and have issued circulars aimed at punishing self-immolators' families and villages by withholding aid.
In an official notification issued on Nov. 14 by the Malho authorities, local officials from the ruling Chinese Communist Party and government have been given orders to punish self-immolators and their families—even those who had offered condolences and prayers to the bereaved family members and relatives, a Tibetan rights group said.
The India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) quoted a source as saying that the notification, issued both in Tibetan and Chinese, was shown on the Malho Prefectural TV channel.
It said government aid to family members of self-immolators will be cut for three years while development funds for villages where self-immolations took place—even if projects had been approved earlier—will be cancelled for a similar period, TCHRD said in a statement.
Officials, monks and monasteries sympathetic to the self-immolators will also face action, according to the circular.
News of the Tibetan self-immolations have been spreading rapidly among China's massive netizen community in recent weeks, a New York-based rights group said.
"Chinese netizens have helped spread reports of Tibetan self-immolations online and expressed their concerns by posting comments on Twitter," Human Rights in China said in a statement.
"They have done so despite intensified government crackdowns and Internet censorship in the lead-up to and during the 18th [ruling Chinese Communist] Party Congress," it said.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.