An 18-year-old Tibetan woman has set herself on fire – twenty second Tibetan since March last year – in desperate protests in the face of hardening Chinese repression.
Tibetan exile sources say Tenzin Choedron, a nun of Mame nunnery shouted slogans against the Chinese government when set herself ablaze Saturday evening in Raruwa township of Ngaba County in eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province).
Reports say police came and immediately took Choedron towards Barkham (Ngaba prefecture). Her condition remains unknown.
Chinese authorities have intensified military presence at Mame nunnery, according to the same sources.
Mame nunnery is the largest nunnery in Ngaba with about 350 nuns. In March 2008, Mame nuns staged a protest into the county town carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama before them, after which many nuns were arrested, detained and sentenced to imprisonment.
Tibetan exile groups claim that about 22 people have burned themselves since March last year to protest China's growing repression against Tibetans and to show their grief under Chinese rule.
The immolations that have taken place mark a dramatic escalation in the tactics opposing Beijing’s rule, and the Chinese government has been very critical of the actions.
The Chinese government has condemned the self-immolations, calling them a form of terrorism. Beijing has also accused Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of supporting such acts.
The Dalai Lama has denied encouraging self-immolations. In an interview with the BBC television last year, the 76-year-old Buddhist leader said those who set themselves on fire were brave, but that their sacrifice was not wise because it resulted in a tougher crackdown by the Chinese authorities.
The Dalai Lama fled into India in 1959 and has lived in exile for more than 50 years after fleeing a failed revolt against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Tibetans have long sought greater freedom from Beijing's rule, with some seeking complete independence and others wanting greater autonomy within China.