A Tibetan monk in a remote region of China's Sichuan province set fire to himself before a large crowd on Tuesday, the 10th self-immolation protest against Chinese rule.
Dawa Tsering, 31, set himself alight during an annual ritual gathering at a monastery in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after calling on Tibetans to unite against Beijing's rule in Tibetan-majority areas, witnesses said.
"The monk self-immolated in the vicinity of the [Kardze] Monastery, at the monks' usual annual gathering, as the ritual dance was going on," a monk from Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Monastery in southwestern China told RFA.
"Most of the witnesses were monks, and there weren't many laypeople there at the time," the monk said.
"He was shouting long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama," referring to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is living in exile in India.
Dawa Tsering was rushed to the Kardze People's Hospital in a monastery vehicle after the flames were extinguished by fellow monks. Several police officers stationed at the monastery followed the monks to the hospital, and reinforcements arrived later and cordoned off the area, sources said.
A second Kardze monk said the monk had refused any form of medical treatment.
"His head is badly burned, he cannot speak, and he is just lying there, staring, fully covered in bandages," the second monk said.
"His head, neck, nose, were all badly burned and the skin has peeled off. He refused any medication and told the monks to let him die."
Meanwhile, an exile Tibetan monk identified as Choegyal from a monastery in southern India said the clothes of some people close to Dawa Tsering, when he doused himself with petrol and set light to himself, had also caught fire.
"Before the self-immolation, the monk offered a [prayer] to the throne of revered Lhanda Lama, he then went to do a incense burning [offering], and put up prayer flags," Cheogyal said.
"He then doused himself with kerosene oil over his head; a few of the people standing near him had their clothes catch fire."
Choegyal said Dawa Tsering was taken back to Kardze Monastery after receiving bandages at the hospital.
"At the hospital, he was wrapped up, and was told that he may not survive, so the monks of Kardze Monastery brought him back to the monastery," he added.
Dawa Tsering, a native of nearby Yepa village, had been at Kardze Monastery for seven years prior to his self-immolation.
Kardze has been the scene of repeated Tibetan protests, both by individuals and by small groups, despite the threat of detentions and violent assaults against protesters by Chinese police.
On Aug. 15, Tsewang Norbu, a 29-year-old monk from Kardze's Nyitso Monastery, set fire to himself outside the Tawu county government offices after handing out leaflets calling for human rights for Tibetans and the return of the Dalai Lama.
Last week, a nun set herself ablaze and died in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture, marking the first female self-immolation case in recent memory among Tibetans resisting Chinese rule.
Tenzin Wamgmo, about 20 years old, called for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader living in exile in India, before succumbing to her burns.
Ten Tibetans, mostly monks from Sichuan's Ngaba prefecture, have self-immolated this year, and at least five have died, saying they wanted to sacrifice their lives to protest rule by Beijing and alleged human rights abuses by Chinese security forces.
Reported by Sonam Wangdue, Soepa Gyaltso and Norbu Damdul for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.