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Two Former Monks Set Themselves on Fire in China

  • VOA Tibetan

A Tibetan exile group says two teenagers have set themselves on fire in a Tibetan area of southwest China to protest China's religious controls.

London-based Free Tibet said Friday the two young men were former Tibetan monks at Kirti Monestary in Sichuan province.

The group cited unconfirmed reports that one of the protesters, 19-year-old Choepel died, while the condition of 18-year-old Khayang was not known.

At least seven monks have set themselves on fire this year to protest perceived religious repression by China. Beijing has often accused Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his followers of advocating for Tibetan secession.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Bridgen said many Tibetans are ready to sacrifice their lives to draw global attention to China's religious policies.

Tibet's government-in-exile has operated from northern India since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly assured China he is seeking dialogue with Beijing aimed at establishing Tibetan autonomy, and is not advocating for Tibetan secession.

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