Two Tibetan civilians set themselves afire in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in southwest China in the latest attempt at self-immolation as a mark of protest to demand freedom, a rights group claimed late on Thursday evening.
A statement from the London-based Free Tibet claimed
that two, Sonam and Choephak Kyap, both in their 20s, self-immolated together in a town called Barma in TAR.
The statement added that both were taken to a hospital by locals and were said to be critically injured.
The government was yet to comment on the incident till late Thursday.
Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in the statement: “Barma Township has seen its fair share of trouble in the past months: Chinese state security forces shot dead a young man called Urgen in January, and in February a teenager called Nangdrol died after setting fire to himself, also in front of the monastery. All three self-immolations in Barma have been by lay (civilians, not monks) people.”
The toll of Tibetans, monks and civilians, who have set themselves on fire, has crossed the 30-mar; many have died from the injuries.
The Chinese government maintains that the self-immolations in the TAR and elsewhere are instigated by the Dalai Lama, who is based out of Dharamshala.
Since the beginning of the year, security has been tightened around all the four regions in China where ethnic Tibetans live. The government says separatist elements want to compromise China’s territorial integrity.
The TAR, it says is on the path of unprecedented development. “Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region reported a 23.7-% hike in tourist arrivals in the first three months of this year, heralding a rosy outlook for the plateau's tourism industry in the Year of the Water Dragon.
Tibet received 230,000 tourist arrivals from January to March,” official news agency Xinhua reported Thursday, quoting a senior official with the regional tourism bureau.
It added that Tibet's tourism revenue climbed 27.9 % over the same period of last year to reach 229 million Yuan (36.34 million U.S. dollars), said Yu Yungui, secretary of the bureau's committee of the Communist Party of China.