22 self-immolations reported in past year

March 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

MAQU, China, March 23 (UPI) -- Seven people have set themselves on fire in recent weeks in protest of Chinese policies against Tibetans, activists say.

The New York Times said China has tightened controls against the 5 million Tibetans who live in Gansu province, near Tibet. The newspaper said 22 Tibetans have died in the past year by self-immolation.

China blamed the deaths on the influence of Tibetan exiles and has boosted the police and military presence in the region. Thousands of Communist Party leaders have been sent to Tibetan communities to develop relationships with monks, rewarding those who are cooperative and sometimes expelling, from their monasteries, those who are not.

Monks and nuns have been forced to publicly denounce Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the newspaper said Friday.

Student protests were reported in China's Qinghai province after the introduction of Chinese-language textbooks. Exile groups say one person was killed and 30 others injured when police fired at demonstrators in Drango County in Sichuan province.

The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said 20 of 22 monasteries have been closed in Diru County in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The New York Times said the most recent self-immolation death, that of a 20-year-old student named Tsering Kyi, has been widely publicized by Tibetan activists. The official Xinhua news agency said the young woman set herself on fire after a head injury caused her grades to decline.

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