BEIJING (AP) — A former Buddhist monk set himself on fire to protest Chinese rule in Tibet in the eighth such self-immolation this year, an activist group said Sunday. Police extinguished the fire and the man’s condition was unknown, the group said.
Norbu Dathul, 19, set himself on fire Saturday in the main market in Aba, a town in the western province of Sichuan near Tibet that has been the site of a series of protests, Free Tibet said.
Police put out the fire and the man’s condition was not immediately known, said the London-based group, which calls for self-determination for Tibet. It said he was the eighth Tibetan protester to set himself on fire this year.
The man shouted “Tibet needs freedom!” and called for the return of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the group said, citing unidentified sources at the town’s Kirti monastery.
A man who answered the phone at the Aba police headquarters hung up when asked whether the incident occurred. Phone calls to other government offices were not answered.
Aba and Kirti monastery have been the scene of numerous protests against the Chinese government. Most are led by monks who are loyal to the Dalai Lama, who fled the region in 1959 during an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.
The latest incident “provides further evidence that Tibetans now feel that setting fire to themselves is their only recourse,” Free Tibet’s director, Stephanie Brigden, said in the group’s statement.
Last week, China’s foreign ministry accused overseas followers of the Dalai Lama of inciting the protests. A ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, said they were part of a plan to violently overthrow Chinese rule in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has routinely condemned violence and advocates a peaceful campaign for greater autonomy for Tibetans in China while remaining under Beijing’s rule.