Updated at 3:45 p.m. EST on 2012-08-07
A Tibetan monk in China’s southwestern Sichuan province set himself ablaze Monday in the latest in a wave of self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule, according to Tibetan sources.
Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk at the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan prefecture, burned himself shortly after 5:00 p.m. local time, the sources said.
“Witnesses said that he shouted slogans calling for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for Tibetans living in and outside of Tibet to reunite,” said Sungrab Gyatso, a monk at Drepung monastery in India, citing contacts in Tibet.
A Tibetan resident of the area confirmed the account, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"After Chinese police extinguished the flames, he was taken away alive,” he said.
Citing a local source and speaking on condition of anonymity, a Tibetan living in South India said that following the protest, police were observed throwing a badly burned body into a vehicle and driving away.
“More police than residents were present at the scene,” he added.
Separately, the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said a witness reported that "Chinese state security personnel quickly extinguished the flames at the scene on the main road in Ngaba.”
That road is now called Martyrs’ Road by local residents because of the large number of self-immolation protests that have taken place there, Free Tibet said in its statement.
“The man who set fire to himself today was reported to be still alive, his upper body badly injured, when security personnel drove him away in a vehicle,” Free Tibet said.
The burning brings to 45 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans challenging Beijing’s rule since the current wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with nearly all of the protests taking place in Tibetan-populated provinces in western China.
The first self-immolation protest in the Tibetan capital was reported in May, when two young Tibetan men set themselves ablaze in a central square of the heavily guarded city.
As the world’s media focuses on the discipline of Chinese athletes competing in the Olympic Games now under way in London, “Chinese state repression is driving Tibetans to set fire to themselves under a media blackout,” Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement on Monday.
“China is competing in the Olympic Games despite having broken every commitment on human rights made during its bid for the 2008 games [held in Beijing],” Brigden said.
“While we celebrate human endeavour, we must rigorously defend human rights,” Brigden said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin, Chakmo Tso, and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul and Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.
CORRECTION: Amended name of self-immolator based on latest information.