One of two Tibetan monks involved in the latest self-immolation protests against Chinese rule in troubled Sichuan province has died, according to Chinese authorities, exile sources said Saturday.
News of the death of Chime Palden, 21, was conveyed to a group of about 100 Tibetans who had mobbed a hospital where the two monks were taken to after the self-immolation on Friday in Barkham (in Chinese, Ma'erkang) city, the sources said.
Chinese security forces initially refused to comply with the demands of the protesting Tibetans, detaining and beating a few of them, but later relented when the situation became tense, said Kanyag Tsering, a monk in India's hill town Dharamsala, where Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is living in exile.
Tsering said the authorities informed the Tibetans that Chime Palden had already been cremated while the other monk, Tenpa Thargyal, 22, is in critical condition.
"His condition is critical and the chances of survival are reported to be very dim," Tsering said quoting Tibetans who were allowed by the authorities to get a glimpse of him at the hospital.
"At that time the Chinese authorities admitted that Chime Palden died and he was cremated at Barkham," Tsering said.
The latest self-immolations brought to 33 the number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire since 2009 as they stepped up their protests against Beijing's rule and called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
With Chime Palden's death, 24 of the self-immolating Tibetans have succumbed to their burns so far.
His remains were handed over on Saturday to the Gyalrong Tsodun Kirti monastery in Barkham, from which the two monks who self-immolated had come, Tsering said.
As Tibetans converged Saturday for Chime Palden's funeral prayers at the monastery, Chinese authorities dispatched security forces to the institution, but they were stopped on the way by groups of protesting Tibetans, he said.
The tense situation was defused by religious department officials with a compromise that the Tibetans refrain from launching mass protests and the security forces return to the barracks.
"Both agreed, and situation is temporarily calm. If the Chinese forces raid the monastery, the Tibetans will react and the situation could explode,” Tsering said.
The two monks had set themselves alight at about noon Friday at the Barkham city center, but Chinese security forces doused the flames, bundled them into a vehicle, and took them away to the hospital.
The unending self-immolation protests by Tibetans have resulted in a Chinese security clampdown in Sichuan and the other Tibetan-populated provinces of Qinghai and Ganzi, as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Aside from detaining hundreds of monks from monasteries, Chinese authorities have jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights, exile sources said.
The self-immolations have not stopped despite appeals against the practice by Tibetan leaders in exile and community leaders.
Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of China.
Last week, the Chinese government again blamed the spirtual leader after a Tibetan exile in India set himself on fire to protest a New Delhi trip by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Jamphel Yeshi doused himself in fuel and set himself ablaze before running down a street. He was taken to hospital but died after sustaining more than 90 percent burns.
He was the second Tibetan in exile in India to have self-immolated and died. The other Tibetan, Thupten Ngodup, set himself on fire and perished in 1998.
Lobsang Sangay, the head of Tibet's exile government in Dharamsala, has accused Beijing of attempting "to annihilate the Tibetan people and its culture" over the last half-century.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.