Tibetan man dies from self-immolation in New Delhi

NEW DELHI Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:56am IST

A Tibetan exile runs after setting himself on fire during a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in New Delhi March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A Tibetan exile runs after setting himself on fire during a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in New Delhi March 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Tibetan man died on Wednesday after setting himself on fire earlier this week in New Delhi to protest Chinese rule of the Himalayan region, activists said, hours before Chinese President Hu Jintao's arrival in India for a summit of emerging market nations.

Thirty Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire, mostly in southwestern China, in the past year, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 20 have died.

Jamphel Yeshi, 27, set himself ablaze on Monday at a protest criticizing President Hu's visit. He died in a local hospital from his injuries, the general secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress said in a statement.

"The fact that Tibetan people are setting themselves on fire in this 21st century is to let the world know about their suffering," Yeshi wrote in a handwritten statement found in his room.

Pictures taken by a Reuters photographer showed the activist running down a street enveloped in flames on Monday. He suffered burn injuries across 98 percent of his body.

Born in Tibet but living in exile in India, Yeshi was an activist with the youth organization, which seeks independence for the Himalayan region, under Chinese rule for more than six decades.

Hu arrived in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon to take part in a one day summit between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- known collectively as BRICS.

Indian police have arrested a number of Tibetans in recent days, activists say, in an apparent bid to prevent protests marring Hu's visit.

India hosts large community of Tibetans - including exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama - one of the main sources of friction with neighbouring China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of stirring unrest.

(Reporting by Annie Banerji; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Ed Lane)

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