Tibetan Woman Dies in Burning Protest

Young exile Tibetans take part in a candlelight vigil for self-immolators in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, Feb. 13, 2013.

A Tibetan woman has burned herself to death in protest against Chinese rule in Sichuan province's Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture in the second self-immolation in a week, sources said Sunday.

Konchog Wangmo, 31, set herself ablaze in Dzoege (Ruo'ergai) county just before midnight last Wednesday, but news of the burning was hushed up by Chinese police who had grabbed her body, cremated it, and handed over the remains to her family, the sources said.

Her husband, Drolma Kyab, was detained when he refused to comply with an order by the Chinese authorities who wanted to blame the self-immolation on a family squabble, one exiled Tibetan with contacts in the region told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"The authorities wanted Drolma Kyab to declare that she burnt herself as a result of a family conflict, and when he refused to comply, he was detained and taken away," Dzoege Legshe said.

"She died on the same day," he said.

Konchog Wangmo is the 15th woman to self-immolate since the burnings began in February 2009 aimed at challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.

So far, 109 Tibetans have burned themselves in the desperate protests which are not petering out despite tighter restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities.

Crackdown anniversary

On Saturday, a Tibetan monk from the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba burned himself to death to mark the fifth anniversary of a bloody Chinese crackdown on Tibetans in the area, sources said.

Lobsang Thogme, 28, torched himself at the monastery which has been the epicenter of the Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule.

The burning was aimed at marking the fifth anniversary of a March 16, 2008 crackdown on Ngaba in which Chinese police fired on a crowd of Tibetans, killing at least 10, including one monk, they said.

The crackdown had agitated Tibetans in the area and helped spark the Tibetan self-immolations, sources said.

The main road in Ngaba was renamed last year by Tibetans as "Heroes Street" after it became the epicenter of the burnings.

Chinese authorities have recently tightened controls in Tibetan-populated areas to check the self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing more than a dozen Tibetans who they have accused of being linked to the burning protests. Some were jailed up to 15 years.

Human rights groups have criticized the Chinese authorities for criminalizing the burning protests.

The authorities have also deployed paramilitary forces and have restricted communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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