A Tibetan woman died after setting herself ablaze Sunday morning in Ngaba County in eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province).
Ven. Lobsang Yeshi of Kirti Monastery in India told VOA Tibetan that the 33-year-old Rinchen, mother of four children self-immolated herself in front of a special security office stationed outside the besieged Kirti Monastery where heavy security measures have been beefed up following rounds of self-immolations.
Reports say Rinchen called for freedom in Tibet and return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Tibet moments before she succumbed to flames.
Free Tibet, a UK based advocacy group said Rinchen’s four children range in age from 13 to just a few months and her husband is known to have died a year earlier. Free Tibet also reports that Rinchen travelled from her a nomadic area or settlement to Ngaba town to self-immolate.
The latest self-immolation comes at a sensitive time ahead of the March 14 anniversary of 2008 Tibet-wide protests against China.
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. More than fifteen Tibetans are known to have self-immolated from the Ngaba region since then.
The recent 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.
More than 20 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the past year to protest Beijing’s rule. 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 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 in 2010, 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.