A Tibetan has burned himself to death in protest against Chinese rule in Gansu province, bringing the total number of Tibetan self-immolations to 101 even as Beijing steps up its crackdown to preempt the burnings, sources said Thursday.
Drukpa Khar, a 26-year-old man, doused himself in gasoline and set himself alight in Achok town in Sangchu (Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on Wednesday, a source in Tibet told RFA's Tibetan Service.
"He self-immolated in protest against the Chinese policies," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He is survived by his father, mother, and three children."
The source said Drukpa Khar, who was from Lushoe Kyi village in Lower Achok township, decided to torch himself on the third day of the traditional Tibetan Losar New Year, which has been marked this year by most Tibetans with prayers for compatriots who burned themselves to death during the year to challenge Chinese rule.
The latest incident raised the self-immolation toll to 101 despite Chinese government moves to detain, charge, and jail Tibetans over suspected roles in the burnings or other protests questioning Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Beijing says the self-immolations are acts instigated by the Dalai Lama and other exile Tibetan leaders, who have flatly rejected the charge.
"The ongoing and unprecedented self-immolations by an increasing number of Tibetans in Tibet are the ultimate acts of civil disobedience against China’s failed rule in Tibet," Lobsang Sangay, the political leader of the India-based exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), said in a statement.
"Instead of owning the onus of tragedy in Tibet—a self evident responsibility of its over 60 years of continuous iron-grip rule in Tibet—China relentlessly and irresponsibly accuses His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership of inciting these self-immolations," he said.
He called on Beijing to provide unfettered access to Tibet for global media, diplomats, and international nongovernmental organizations.
"On our part, we have repeatedly invited China to Dharamshala, India, the headquarters of CTA, to investigate our alleged role in the self-immolations. We have pledged full cooperation and unhindered access to our offices," Sangay said.
Chinese courts have jailed at least 15 Tibetans, including monks, in connection with the self-immolations in the last few weeks. Some were given year jail terms of up to 13 years.
Human rights groups have criticized the Chinese authorities for criminalizing the burning protests and cracking down on Tibetans deemed to have provided encouragement or support.
Chinese authorities have also deployed paramilitary forces and restricted communications and travel in the areas where self-immolations have occurred.
The number of Tibetan self-immolations in China rose to 100 after it was learned Wednesday that a former monk from Kirti monastery in Sichuan province’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture had self-immolated last week.
The former Kirti monk, Lobsang Namgyal, 37, self-immolated in Ngaba at a site close to a police station on Feb. 3, according to exiled Tibetan monks Kanyak Tsering and Lobsang Yeshi in India, citing sources in the region.
A Tibetan man also set himself on fire and died in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu on Wednesday in a protest calling for freedom for Tibet.
Self-immolation protests by Tibetans outside China have also taken place previously in India and as far away as France.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.