Prior to the arrival of Chinese president Hu Jintao in the Indian capital of Delhi, a Tibetan activist named Jamphel Yeshi set himself on fire in protest during a demonstration, suffering severe burns that covered most of his body. The 27-year-old Tibetan exile ran screaming down the street as flames licked at his body before he collapsed on the ground, where fellow protesters tried to beat out the flames.
Once Yeshi's inferno was finally put out, Indian doctors transported him to a local hospital.
His condition is very critical, said Sonam Wangyal, one of Yeshi's cousins. The doctors had to do an operation to get him breathing.
Yeshi's self-immolation occurred near the Indian parliament in the center of Delhi, following a march by several hundred Tibetans to protest the Chinese president's visit. Jintao is visiting India to participate in a meeting of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders, according to the BBC.
No one knew of his plans, Wangyal said. He did this act to fight for the rights of all the Tibetans.
Over recent months, at least 25 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to protest against Beijing's rule over the region. Many of those who participated were monks, but most of the self-immolations took place in the Tibetan parts of the Sichuan province; this is only the second incident to occur in India in recent years. In 2011, a Tibetan exile similarly set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy, but only suffered minor burns.
Even though the Tibetan people are demonstrating against China's rule, activists stress that their protests are wholly non-violent.
We may set ourselves on fire but we won't kill anyone else ever, said Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan writer and activist.
The Tibetan protesters aren't looking to achieve a direct confrontation with Jintao, but want to remind China's president that Tibet still suffers, and its ties with India remain strong.
We want peaceful resolution as advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, said Lhamo Kirti, president of the Tibetan Women's Association (TWA). As the crucial visit of Chinese President to the Indian capital will happen in a few days, we have organised this academic dialogue to present imperative viewpoints on Tibet issue to decision-makers and public.