Soldiers and police on today surrounded a monastery in southwest China where a Tibetan monk set himself on fire and died, cutting off power, water and food to around 100 people inside, witnesses said.
Foreigners were barred from travelling to the area in Sichuan province’s Daofu county, near Tibet, where the 29-year-old set himself on fire yesterday in an apparent protest, local people told AFP by telephone.
“There are at least 1,000 soldiers and police guarding the monastery and about 100 monks inside,” one monk said from inside the monastery.
“The power and water have been cut off for days, and we have no food supplies coming in.”
The London-based Free Tibet rights group said the monk, Tsewang Norbu from the Nyitso monastery, set himself on fire after drinking petrol and spraying himself with the flammable liquid.
He was heard calling out “We Tibetan people want freedom”, “Long live the Dalai Lama”, and “Let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet” before he died, the group said.
Sichuan has a large population of ethnic Tibetans, many of whom object to what they say is repressive Chinese rule — a claim Beijing denies. The region has experienced several bouts of unrest over the past few years.
It was the second reported self-immolation this year in this area of Sichuan, where many monks revere the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, who fled China in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
In March, a young monk called Phuntsog set himself on fire and died near Kirti Monastery in Aba county, around 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Daofu, in apparent protest against the government.
An official at the Daofu government office refused to comment.