Witness: Man sets self ablaze to protest China

AP News
Posted: Nov 10, 2011 3:40 AM
Witness: Man sets self ablaze to protest China

A man wearing the robes of a Tibetan Buddhist monk set himself on fire in the Nepalese capital Thursday morning to protest Chinese policy in Tibet before the flames were extinguished by people nearby.

The incident was the latest in a rash of such protests by Tibetans in recent months to protest China.

Chodon Lama said the protest took place at the holy Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath, in an area of eastern Katmandu where most of the local Tibetan exiles live.

Police official Shyam Gyawali said the man fled after the incident and police were searching the surrounding neighborhood to locate him.

Lama said the man was standing next to the stupa, one of Katmandu's most popular tourist sites, when he poured kerosene on himself. He tried in vain to light a match, and when that didn't work, he used one of the nearby devotional lamps to set himself ablaze as he chanted slogans against China, she said.

Police said the man's friends put out the flames, but Lama said that she and other strangers raced to him to extinguish the flames quickly. He didn't appear hurt badly and he quickly fled, she said.

At least 11 people in Tibet have set themselves on fire since March to protest Chinese rule. At least five have died.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei accused Tibetan activists of glorifying and inciting the self immolations.

"In China, the vast majority of religious believers believe such self-immolation cases should be condemned and the majority of the people in the religious field believe that life is precious and should be cherished," Hong said.

The Dalai Lama has said that China's "ruthless policy" was behind the self-immolations. China accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of stirring up trouble in ethnic Tibetan areas and encouraging followers to set themselves on fire.

The Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism's third-ranking leader, asked China on Wednesday to review its policies toward Tibet in the wake of the protests against Chinese restrictions on their religion and culture.

"These desperate acts, carried out by people with pure motivation, are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live," he said.