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Local Tibetans Summoned After Latest Self-immolation


FILE - Exiled Tibetans pray during a protest rally to express solidarity with Tibetans who have self-immolated, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 28, 2012.

Residents of a Tibetan town have been summoned to meetings by Chinese authorities after the latest incident of self-immolation, according to a former resident of the area now living in India.

The victim, identified as 30-year-old Wangchuk Tseten, set himself on fire Saturday on a busy street in a central area of Kardze, the capital of Kardze Prefecture. Witnesses told their contacts in India that Chinese police put out the fire within two minutes and carried the man away. There has been no official indication whether he died or survived.

“One person I spoke with was surprised that the news had already reached outside Tibet, but he didn’t want to talk about it,” the exiled Tibetan, who asked not to be identified, said Tuesday. He said other residents also were reluctant to discuss the incident.

A video circulated through Tibetan social media on Saturday shows Chinese security officers spraying fire extinguishers over a person on ground and keeping a crowd away. A body can be seen under a dusty cloud produced by fire extinguishers and, barely distinguishable, his feet can be seen to make a small movement.

The exiled Tibetan, who maintains close contact with residents of the area, said Tseten is a father of three children and lives in Zhido Township (also known as Asey Gyechak), in Nyagrong County, also in Kardze Prefecture.

The former resident told VOA the victim self-immolated in the same location that 24-year old Pema Gyaltsen - also from Nyagrong County - set himself afire last month.

Authorities have since imposed tough restrictions on Nyagrong residents seeking to travel to Kardze, the man said. “They need three different permits, one from village leader, one from township and one from county, in order to travel to Kardze,” he said.

On Monday, the political leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile condemned the Chinese government for failing to address the “grievances” that have prompted a wave of Tibetan self-immolations beginning in 2009.

“It is time the Chinese government heed to the calls of Tibetans in Tibet who long for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to Tibet,” said Lobsang Sangay, according to the website of the government in exile, based in Dharamsala, India.

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