BEIJING – A mother of three is the latest Tibetan to self-immolate to protest Chinese rule, reports said Thursday, while authorities have rounded up hundreds of people after two men set themselves alight in front of Tibet's main temple.
The woman, identified as 33-year-old Rechok, set herself on fire outside a Buddhist monastery Wednesday afternoon in an ethnically Tibetan region of western Sichuan province, according to London-based Free Tibet and U.S. government-backed broadcaster Radio Free Asia.
They said she died at the scene and her body was being kept at the temple for cremation.
That would mark at least the 35th Tibetan self-immolation since March of last year to draw attention to China's restrictions on Buddhism and call for the return from exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Chinese authorities have confirmed some of the self-immolations but not all.
The self-immolations of two men outside Jokhang Temple in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa on Sunday have sparked a massive security crackdown, RFA said, citing unidentified sources in the city that has been flooded with Chinese police and military since deadly anti-government protests in 2008.
Residents and pilgrims from outside Lhasa have been held at detention centers around the city, while those not from Tibet have been expelled, it said, estimating the number detained at about 600.
Those held include several suspected of recording the self-immolations on their cell phones, while foreign tourists who may have witnessed the event were escorted back to their hotels and their cameras checked for images of the incident, RFA said.
Sunday's self-immolations, in which one of the men died, were the first in Lhasa, marking a worrying development for Chinese authorities who have blamed them on supporters of the Dalai Lama seeking an end to Chinese rule over Tibet.
Exiled Tibetans say the self-immolations are desperate acts born of the suffering imposed by Chinese political repression and restrictions on Buddhism and cultural expression.