REUTERS - Twenty-seven Tibetans have set themselves on fire, mostly in southwestern China, in the past year to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 19 have died.
The unprecedented wave of protests reflect continuing resentment against Chinese rule despite the billions of dollars that the government has pumped into Tibetan regions to improve living standards.
China has called the self-immolators terrorists and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans for inciting them.
Following are the most recent protests:
* March 14 - Jamyang Palden, a monk in his 30s, lit himself on fire near the Rongwo Monastery in Tongren county, Qinghai province, the UK-based advocacy group Free Tibet said. The group said the monk is believed to have survived, and that ordinary Tibetans joined about 500 monks in an anti-China protest.
A man who answered the phone at the local government office told Reuters he had not heard of the incident and that there had been no problems at the monastery recently. “Nothing like this has happened. Everything here is fine,” he said.
- March 10 - Gepey, an 18-year-old monk from the Kirti monastery in Aba county in Sichuan province, died after setting himself on fire on March 10 on the anniversary of anti-Chinese protests, UK-based campaign group Free Tibet said.
When asked to confirm the incident, a police officer from Aba prefecture told Reuters by telephone: “Who told you this? There’s no such thing. Everything here is fine.” An Aba government official denied knowledge of the incident.
- March 6 - Dorjee, 18, died after he set himself ablaze in Aba county, according to Free Tibet and International Campaign for Tibet. Tibetan monks at the Kirti monastery in India’s Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said Dorjee shouted slogans against the Chinese government’s policies on Tibet as he set himself ablaze, according to the U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet.
A local official and police told Reuters by telephone that they had no knowledge of the incident.
- March 5 - Tsering Kyi, a 20-year-old student, doused herself with petrol and set herself on fire in Maqu, Gansu province, a statement by the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala, India, said.
- March 4 - Rinchen, a 32-year-old widowed mother of four, died after setting herself ablaze near the Kirti monastery in Sichuan province, according to Tibetan rights group Free Tibet. Local officials were unable to confirm or deny the incident.
(Items marked with * are new)
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani