Former Tibetan monk sets himself on fire

Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM
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LONDON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A 19-year-old former monk called for freedom for Tibet before he set himself on fire in a market in Sichuan province, an activist group said.

Officials at the Kirti monastery in North India reported that Norbu Dathul, 19, became the eighth person to set himself on fire since March in protest of the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Activist group Free Tibet, in an account published on its Web site, said the former monk called out "Tibet needs freedom" and "His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return" before setting himself on fire. The report adds that Chinese police extinguished the flames but the whereabouts of Dathul were unknown.

"This is the eighth self-immolation in protest at the persecution of Tibetans under Chinese rule since March this year," Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement. "It provides further evidence that Tibetans now feel that setting fire to themselves is their only recourse."

She said the international community "has failed the Tibetan people," adding it was time to hold China accountable for alleged human rights abuses in Tibet.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said last week that Washington was "very concerned" about China's record in the region and the growing number of protest suicides.

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