A Tibetan Buddhist monk burned himself to death today in southwest China calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader condemned by Beijing as a separatist, a group campaigning for Tibetan self-rule said.
The monk’s self-immolation could spark fresh tensions in heavily ethnic Tibetan parts of Sichuan, which neighbors the official Tibet region, following protests in March when a Tibetan monk there also burned himself to death.
The London-based Free Tibet organization said the latest immolation-protest was carried out by a 29-year-old monk, Tsewang Norbu, who was from a monastery in Tawu, about 150 km (93 miles) from where the last immolation happened.
“Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, sprayed petrol on himself and then set himself on fire,” Free Tibet said in an emailed statement, citing an unnamed witness.
“He was heard calling out: ‘We Tibetan people want freedom’, ‘Long live the Dalai Lama’ and ‘Let the Dalai Lama Return to Tibet’. He is believed to have died at the scene,” the group said.
China’s official Xinhua news agency also reported the monk’s self-immolation, but said “it was unclear why he had burned himself.”
Tawu, called Daofu in Chinese, is in a largely ethnic Tibetan part of western Sichuan that many advocates of self-rule say should form part of a larger homeland under Tibetan control. Calls from Reuters to the government and police bureau in Daofu County went unanswered on Monday evening.