BEIJING: A Tibetan villager has died after setting himself on fire, Chinese state media said yesterday -- the latest death in a wave of protests against Beijing’s rule.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said the herdsman set himself alight late on Friday in the northwest province of Qinghai.
It quoted local authorities as saying that the 26-year-old, identified as Dazheng, set himself ablaze in the village of Dageri in Zekog County.
The state news earlier reported that another Tibetan died on Thursday, also in Qinghai. It identified the man as Libong Tsering, 19, who died in the Dowa township of Tongren county.
Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country’s majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.
China rejects this, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. Beijing points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala expressed “deep concern over the alarming escalation in self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet”.
Dharamshala has been the headquarters of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since he fled from Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
The Central Tibetan Administration said that the latest death had pushed the total number of self-immolations since 2009 by Tibetans inside Tibet to 81, including five in the last six days and 19 in November alone.
The administration said that Chinese authorities had cut off Internet and phone lines following the latest death.
The Tibetan government-in-exile urged China’s new leadership to “promptly address the longstanding grievances” of Tibetans.