Tibetan self-immolates in anti-China protest in New Delhi
Mar 26, 2012, 9:20 GMT
New Delhi - A Tibetan exile set fire to himself in New Delhi during a protest Monday against Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit, officials said.
Jampa Yeshi, 27, doused himself with inflammable liquid before setting fire to himself near a group of around 1,000 protesters in the central business district of Connaught Place, but survived the ordeal, witnesses said.
He was engulfed in flames as he ran for around 100 metres before collapsing to the ground, and police and other Tibetans tried to douse the flames.
Police officials maintained that he suffered no life-threatening injuries.
But leaders from the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), one of the organizers of the protest, said Yeshi had suffered burn injuries over 90 per cent of his body and chances of his survival were low.
Tibetan exiles said the protest was against Hu's visit as well as the ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet and continued religious and cultural repression in the region.
Hu is scheduled to visit New Delhi later this week for the fourth summit of the so-called BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
It was the second case of self-immolation reported from India in recent months, amid a wave of similar incidents in Tibet over the past three years. In November, a 26-year-old Tibetan refugee attempted self-immolation outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.
Beijing accuses supporters of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, of encouraging self-immolations and other protests.
Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in the northern hill-town of Dharamsala, blamed the spate of immolations on China.
'It is due to China's continous occupation and repressive policies in Tibet,' government spokesman Tashi (who uses only one name) said over telephone. 'Our leadership has always discouraged such extreme actions,' he added.
Kai Muller from the International Campaign for Tibet, said self-immolations by Tibetan exiles assumed significance as it displayed the widespread anger against the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.
Meanwhile, scores of Tibetan exiles gathered in New Delhi and planned more protests in the run up to Hu's visit, TYC leaders said. 'It (immolation) was not organized by any group. It was done by an individual,' an TYC representative told broadcaster NDTV.
'It was a voluntary act, but we appreciate what he has done because it draws attention to our struggle and the worsening situation inside Tibet,' he said.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and many of his followers fled to Dharamsala after China cracked down on the uprising in Lhasa on March 10, 1959.
At least 110,000 Tibetans live in Dharamsala and 35 settlements in India. Six million Tibetans live in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and adjoining areas of China.
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