A 20-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire on Friday around 5pm in Ngaba in eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province).
Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk of restive Kirti monastery shouted anti-China slogans as he marched onto the streets while engulfed in flames, in a desperate protests against Beijing’s repressive policies on Tibet, says spokesperson of Kirti monastery in India.
Chinese security forces reportedly smothered out the flames while beating Tsultrim. The monk’s whereabouts and present conditions are not known. Sources say Tsultrim was alive at the time the security forces took him in a vehicle to an undisclosed location.
Tsultrim joined Kirti monastery at the age of eight and is the eldest among his four siblings, according to the same source.
Crackdown in Ngaba
Heavy Chinese security forces were reportedly deployed at the main gates to the Kirti monastery since Friday morning, further intensifying its already heavy military presence near the monastery.
China has worsened crackdown in the Tibetan area of Ngaba following the self-immolation and death of a young Kirti monk called Phuntsog on March 16, 2011.
In the aftermath of Phuntsog's protest and subsequent show of solidarity by the monks at Kirti monastery, the authorities launched a stringent patriotic education campaign at Kirti monastery, according to Kirti monks in exile.
In April 2011, Chinese authorities seized more than 300 protesting monks from the Kirti monastery, one of the most important religious institutions in the area. Beijing at the time denied involvement in the disappearances, before later admitting the monks were undergoing enforced "legal education" at undisclosed locations.
Situation in Ngaba region currently remains tense as Beijing continues to heighten its crackdowns, arbitrary beatings and detentions in Ngaba.
A Spate of Self-Immolations
Since March 2011, more than seventeen Tibetans are known to have self-immolated from the restive Ngaba region. At least 28 nuns, monks and other people have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas since last March, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
On Wednesday, a 38-year-old monk set himself ablaze
in Rebkong in Amdo, Qinghai province. Another Kirti monk died in a self-immolation protest last Saturday
, at a sensitive time on the March 10 anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising Day and the March 2008 Tibetan-wide protest against China.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao this week said he was "deeply distressed" by the Tibetan self-immolations. Wen accused the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile of trying to undermine China’s social harmony.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, has praised the courage of those who engaged in self-immolation but has said he neither encourages them, nor feels that they can have an impact on Chinese leaders. Both the Dalai Lama and the elected exile Tibetan leader, Lobsang Sangay, blames Chinese repression of Tibetan culture and religion for the wave of Tibetan self-immolations that shows few signs of abating.
The exile Tibetan leadership and rights groups have expressed fear of more self-immolations and further bloodshed in Tibet following China’s violent crackdown over peaceful protests in recent weeks in Tibet. The leader of Tibet's government-in-exile has called on the international community to intervene on behalf of the Tibetans inside Tibet.