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Tibetan woman self-immolates in China

19 March 2013, 10:19

Beijing - A Tibetan woman burned herself to death, leading authorities in China to detain her husband, rights groups and media reports said on Tuesday, in the latest such protest against Beijing's rule.

Around 110 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire since 2009.

Kunchok Wangmo, in her early 30s, set herself on fire in south-western Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, said the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and UK-based Free Tibet, which spelled her name Kunchoek.

Free Tibet and the US-based Radio Free Asia added that authorities cremated the body and handed the ashes to her family, then detained her husband Dolma Kyab after he refused to blame the death on family problems.

The incident occurred on 13 March but was only reported this week.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the authorities of repressing their religion and eroding their culture as the country's Han ethnic majority increasingly move into traditionally Tibetan areas.

Tensions erupted in violent protests in March 2008 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which then spread into neighbouring areas.

Beijing rejects criticism of its rule, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and pointing to huge ongoing investment that it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

Authorities have sought to crack down on the protests by arresting and trying those accused of inciting them, while also launching a major publicity drive on the issue.

A court in the nearby province of Qinghai on Tuesday sentenced three men to four to six years for "state subversion", saying they "used others' self-immolations" and "spread text and images related to Tibetan independence", the People's Daily said on its website.

Beijing accuses the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his "clique" of inciting such acts to push a separatist agenda, and has previously jailed Tibetans in China for sending information about immolations abroad.

The Nobel peace laureate says he is seeking greater autonomy rather than Tibetan independence. He fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising, and has since based himself in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.



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