Third Tibetan protester to burn himself to death in three days
Three self-immolations overshadow national state meeting in China and mark anniversaries of unrest
A TEENAGE Tibetan burned himself to death in south-west China yesterday, the third self-immolation in just three days. The 18-year-old, known as Dorjee, set fire to himself in the county of Aba in the Sichuan province.
According to campaigners Save Tibet, Dorjee walked towards a local government office shouting slogans against the Chinese government's policies on Tibet before he collapsed and died.
His death comes just two days after two other Tibetans killed themselves in a similar way. Rinchen, a 32-year-old mother in Sichuan, and Tsering Kyi, a female student in neighbouring Gansu, died on Saturday.
More than 20 Tibetans have self-immolated in the last year and at least 18 have died from their injuries.
The spate of deaths in the last three days falls on the eve of the Chinese government's annual legislative session. Thousands of National People's Congress members travel from across China to attend, attracting international media attention.
March also marks the anniversary of the unsuccessful revolt against China that caused Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959 and the deadly anti-government riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 2008.
The Dalai Lama has previously said that the desperation felt by those who set themselves alight is caused by the "kind of cultural genocide" taking place in Tibet. But the Chinese government has said it treats Tibetans fairly. It has branded those who self-immolate 'terrorists' and pointed the finger at Dalai Lama loyalists, accusing them of plotting and coordinating self-immolations.
Today, from the annual legislative session, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi called on the United States to "respect" Chinese interests in the case of Tibet. This comes after complaints that the White House has shown too much support to the Dalai Lama, such as inviting him to meet with Barack Obama.
Without a place on this media stage, Dorjee, Rinchen and Tsering Kyi chose a harrowingly different way to get themselves heard.