Tibetan monk’s burning marks 100th immolation bid

KATHMANDU, Feb 13 – A Tibetan monk doused himself in petrol in a Kathmandu restaurant on Wednesday and set himself on fire, marking the 100th self-immolation bid in a wave of protests against Chinese rule since 2009.

Police in the Nepalese capital told AFP that the exile had burned himself in an eatery near Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa, one of the world’s holiest Buddhist shrines, terrifying tourists who were having breakfast.

“At around 8:20 am (0235 GMT), a man in his early 20s arrived at a restaurant on the premises of the Boudhanath Stupa,” police spokesman Keshav Adhikari said.

“He went straight to the toilet and poured petrol over his body and set himself alight.”

The monk managed to run out into the street to the foot of the stupa where police helped douse the flames before sending him to hospital in a critical condition.

The Tibetan government in exile, based in the Indian town of Dharamshala in the foothills of the Himalayas, had previously put the number of burnings since 2009 at 99, with 83 of them leading to the death of the protester.

The gruesome burnings, most of which have occurred in Tibetan-inhabited areas of China, are seen as a sign of desperation in the community over perceived religious persecution in Chinese-ruled Tibet.

Speaking to AFP ahead of the milestone of 100 cases, Tibetan exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay blamed Chinese authorities and called for the international community to take note.

“Because there is no freedom of speech or outlet for any form of protest, unfortunately Tibetans have chosen self-immolations,” he said in an interview in Dharamshala.

“To the international community I say ‘stand up for Tibetans’. The Chinese government has completely militarised the Tibetan area,” he added.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, of encouraging the immolations and says huge investment has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

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