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November 24, 2012

Tibetan man sets self on fire in protest in China

BEIJING — A Tibetan herdsman has died after setting himself on fire in northwest China's Qinghai province, state media reported Saturday, in the latest in a series of protests against Chinese rule.

The official Xinhua News Agency says Dazheng, 27, self-immolated in Zekog county on Friday night but provides no further details about why the man set himself ablaze.

The death came one day after Libong Tsering, 19, self-immolated in Tongren county in the same province on Thursday, according to an earlier Xinhua report. Both Tongren and Zekog are located within the Huangnan prefecture. A government worker from Huangnan prefecture, which oversees the counties, said on Saturday he had no information on the deaths and refused to identify himself, which is common among officials in Tibetan regions when the topic involves self-immolations.

The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile based in India has confirmed Libong Tsering's death and reported another self-immolation in Gansu province on Thursday night by Tadin Kyab, a 23-year-old former monk.

On Tuesday, Xinhua reported two Tibetan herdsmen killed themselves by setting themselves on fire in two separate incidents.

The latest deaths bring to about 80 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated since 2009 in protest against what overseas supporters say is China's strict control over Tibet's Buddhist culture and a suffocating security presence in Tibetan regions.

Most of the protesters have doused themselves with gasoline and set themselves alight after shouting slogans calling for Tibetan independence and blessings for the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader. China blames him for encouraging the wave of self-immolations that Beijing has apparently been powerless to stop despite stepped-up security and an extensive spying network.

The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile on Friday repeated a call for China to reassess its policies toward Tibetans.

"The Central Tibetan Administration urges the Chinese government to address the underlying grievances of the Tibetan people, instead of imposing counter-productive measures targeting the families and relatives of the self-immolators," it said in a statement, using the formal name of the body headquartered in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

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