A young Tibetan man set himself on fire and died outside a police station in China’s Sichuan province on Friday in a challenge to Beijing's rule in Tibetan areas, according to sources in the region.
It was the second Tibetan self-immolation this year and the 97th since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009 aimed at highlighting opposition to Chinese rule and seeking the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Tsering Phuntsok, 28, set himself ablaze at about 3:15 p.m. local time outside a Chinese police station in Marthang (in Chinese, Hongyuan) county in Sichuan’s Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Tibetan sources said.
“A Tibetan martyr self-immolated [today],” one source told RFA's Tibetan Service, saying, “All relevant groups have been requested to say prayers in solidarity.”
Phuntsok, who came from Marthang county’s Drachen Township, Unit 2, is survived by his wife and two children, sources said. His father’s name is Kyokpo and his mother’s name is Yangtso.
“Shortly after the self-immolation, monks from Amchok Tsennyi monastery gathered at the deceased’s house and said prayers,” another source said.
The area is now under a heavy security clampdown, according to local sources.
Appeal to end 'drastic actions'
Chinese authorities have already clamped down on the Internet and other communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred. Satellite equipment used by Tibetans to tune in to foreign radio and TV programs has also been seized.
Tibet’s India-based exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), confirmed Phuntsok’s protest and death in a statement Friday, adding that it “reiterates its appeal to Tibetans not to resort to drastic actions such as self-burnings.”
Human rights in Tibetan areas governed by China have plunged to “a new low,” the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said this week.
The exile group asked Chinese authorities to release Tibetan political prisoners and investigate the “real causes” behind self-immolation protests.
In its report, the rights group documented a series of abuses against Tibetans, including arbitrary detentions and arrests, torture, and restrictions on Tibetan language and culture.
Reported by Guru Choegi, Chakmo Tso, and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.