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Two More Tibetans Burn Themselves in China Protest

  • VOA Tibetan

Ngawang Norphel, right, and Tenzin Khedup, left, self-immolated today around 3. 30 pm

In an unwavering continuous spate of self-immolations from Tibetan regions, another two young Tibetans from eastern Tibet have burned themselves today to protest Chinese rule and to demand return of the Dalai Lama, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

22-year-old Ngawang Norphel and 24-year-old Tenzin Khedup set themselves ablaze around 3.30 pm Tuesday in Zatoe town of Kyegudo, (Chinese: Yushu) in eastern Tibet’s Kham province. Both were known to have carried Tibetan national flag at the time of their self-immolation.

A written statement by the protesters said: "People like us are unable to contribute anything toward Tibetan religion and culture, or contribute economically to help Tibetans." They said they chose to self-immolate "to show our love to the Tibetan people [and] our loyalty to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama."

Graphic video of the fiery protest forwarded to the Tibetan exile community reached VOA's Tibetan service within hours and quickly circulated on the Internet.

Tenzin Khedup, a former monk of Zilkar monastery is reported to have died at the scene of the protest. Sources say that his body was taken to Zilkar monastery where monks and lay people were known to have paid respect and burned prayer lamps.

Ngawang, who has settled in the area from Ngaba region in Amdo, main locus of the Tibetan self-immolations, has been taken to hospital. His condition and whereabouts are unknown.

Sources say Zatoe town is under heavy travel and communication restriction.

The Chinese government, which views Tibet as a non-negotiable part of China, has forcefully condemned the protests, which erupted 15 months ago as Chinese security forces sought to lock down the region in a push to prevent such demonstrations.

The latest self-immolations bring the number of Tibetans who set themselves ablaze throughout Tibet since February 2009 to 41. Beijing says the immolations incite separatism and are directed from outside the country. But representatives of the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India, say protesters are driven to self-immolate in large part because they can no longer tolerate Beijing's ongoing push against Tibetan culture and religion.

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