BEIJING – Two Tibetan monks in their early 20s set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule near dozens of pilgrims who had gathered for prayers to mark the end of the Tibetan New Year festival, a Tibet rights group said. Both died.
One of the monks, Tsesung Kyab, self-immolated Monday outside a temple in Luqu county in northwestern Gansu province while the other, Phagmo Dundrup, set himself ablaze Sunday at a monastery in neighboring Qinghai province, the Washington, D.C.-based, International Campaign for Tibet reported.
The ICT said large numbers of religious pilgrims had gathered at both monasteries for prayer ceremonies to commemorate the end of the Tibetan new year festival, Losar. The group says it received images of the self-immolation in Luqu, in which pilgrims watched as Tsesung Kyab was ablaze.
The latest self-immolations bring the total since 2009 to 106. Last week, two Tibetan teenagers set themselves on fire in a double self-immolation in Aba prefecture of Sichuan province, Tibet rights advocacy groups said. Seventeen-year-old Richen and his childhood friend Sonam Dargye, 18, were among the youngest to have died after staging the fiery protests.
The protests have come despite an intensified crackdown in Tibetan areas by Chinese authorities hoping to stop the self-immolations. Authorities have detained and jailed Tibetans they accuse of helping others self-immolate, an act that Beijing now considers a crime.
A woman who answered the phone at the Communist Party's propaganda department in Gannan prefecture, which oversees Luqu county, said she was unaware of the reported self-immolation while county officials could not be reached. Authorities in Qinghai's Haidong prefecture, where the second protest took place, either could not be reached or said they had no information on the case.