Two Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the Tibetan capital Lhasa in support of Tibetan independence from China, with one of them subsequently dying in hospital, China’s Xinhua agency said on Monday.
The two men self-immolated in a busy shopping street in Lhasa on Sunday. But police reacted promptly and put out the flames. The two men were taken to hospital where one of them died from the burns.
These were the first recent cases of self-immolation in the Tibetan capital, although there has been a spate of similar incidents in Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces over the past year, Xinhua said.
Official Beijing statistics said at least 20 Tibetans had died from self-immolation in the period since March 2011. Chinese authorities said they had evidence of separatists’ involvement in the actions.
Tibet, which was annexed to China in the 13th century, has been contentious for China since 1949 when Beijing and Lhasa signed an agreement granting the province autonomy.
The spiritual leader of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, fled Tibet in 1959 when it became part of China. He is now living in India where the Tibetan government in exile is headquartered. Last March, he stepped down as its leader but is still viewed as a separatist in Beijing.
In March 2008, riots commemorating 49 years since the Dalai Lama left Tibet took place in Lhasa and other Tibetan cities. Beijing accused Dalai Lama of organizing the unrest. At least 19 people died in the protests.