Security forces clashed with angry Tibetans in south-western China yesterday, shooting one person, after a man set himself on fire in the latest protest against Chinese rule, activist groups said.
Local residents began to protest on Saturday after seeing police severely beat the burning man as they put out the flames, the London-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said.
"Tibetans at the scene became very distressed and angry and gathered together in what seems to be an impromptu demonstration," said Kate Saunders, a spokeswoman for the group. Little was known about the man who set himself on fire, although the ICT cited its sources as saying he was not a monk.
At least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans are now believed to have set themselves on fire in the past year – including four in the past week – mostly in traditionally Tibetan areas of Sichuan province.
Most have chanted for Tibetan freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to exile in India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
Woeser, a Beijing-based Tibetan poet and activist, posted accounts of the unrest on Twitter. "A young Tibetan person self-immolated ... the local area has erupted in public protests and marches, and they have been met with military police fire and suppression. There are Tibetan casualties," she wrote. Like some Tibetans, Woeser uses just one name.
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