Updated at 11:15 AM EST on 2012-02-21
Tibetan monks on Sunday prevented Chinese security forces from taking away the body of a Tibetan teenager who burned himself to death in front of a monastery to protest against Chinese rule in southwest Sichuan province, sources said.
Nangdrol, who was 18, died on the spot after setting himself ablaze Sunday in front of the monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture's Dzamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang) county, which was hit by bloody protests last month.
"He did it in front of the Dzamthang Jonang monastery on Sunday around noon time," according to Tsangyang Gyatso, head of the Jonang Buddhist Association in India's Dharamsala hill town, where Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is living in exile.
"The Chinese security forces tried to take his body away but the monks of Dzamthang Jonang monastery just managed to take possession of his charred body and conduct prayers," he told RFA, citing contacts in the region.
Nangdrol's self-immolation brings to 23 the number of Tibetans who have burned themselves to protest Chinese policies and rule in Tibetan regions since February 2009.
Three other self-immolations were reported in early February this year in Serthar county (in Chinese, Seda) in Sichuan, but have never been confirmed due to communication problems stemming from a stepped-up crackdown by Chinese security forces.
The Chinese authorities have labeled the self-immolators as terrorists and blamed the Dalai Lama for the tense situation, saying he is encouraging the self-immolations, which run contrary to Buddhist teachings.
But the Dalai Lama blamed China's "ruthless and illogical" policy towards Tibet.
Chinese security forces had beefed up security in Dzamthang in late January after shooting dead a Tibetan protester and wounding several others as they opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators.
The protests occurred as a poster appeared demanding freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.
Beijing has arrested hundreds of Tibetans, mostly monks in Ngaba, following a crackdown stepped up over the last year triggered by the self-immolations.
Last week, police detained a popular Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 33, in Serthar, which was also rocked by bloody protests in January.
Two weeks earlier, a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language, Dawa Dorje, in his 20's, was believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities.
Reported by Tenzin Wangyal for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.