A former Tibetan monk has been hospitalized after he set himself on fire Thursday in the Chinese-ruled Tibetan autonomous region, the 12th self-immolation in an apparent protest against Chinese rule, a human rights group said.
The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said the attempted self-immolation by Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, reportedly occurred near the Karma monastery in Tibet's Chamdo region. He is being treated at a local hospital.
If confirmed -- the report could not be independently verified, as government officials were not allowed to speak on state secrets, the Washington Post reported -- the incident would be the first self-immolation in Tibet proper. The latest case would be the twelfth such case since March, when a young monk named Phuntsog, from the Kirti monastery in Aba county, set himself on fire, prompting widespread protests.
In total -- not counting the latest incident -nine monks and two nuns have set themselves on fire while calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 during an uprising against Chinese rule.
A woman who answered the telephone at the propaganda office of the Chamdo regional Community Party denied the incident occurred, Time reported.
Nobody self-immolated. Nothing like that happened in Chamdo, said the woman who would not give her name.
Chinese officials in Beijing have blamed the Dalai Lama for the self-immolations, saying he is encouraging his terrorist followers to kill themselves to advance their cause; the Dalai Lama countered, saying, We are totally committed to upholding the non-violence principle.
Chinese authorities routinely deny Tibetan claims of repression.