BEIJING – A nun set herself on fire while crying out for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet in the latest in dozens of self-immolations in recent years by Tibetans protesting Beijing's controls over the region, overseas rights groups said.
Yeshi Khando, 47, of Ngangang Nunnery circled Kardze Monastery in Sichuan province and then self-immolated on Wednesday near the police station while shouting slogans including "Tibet needs freedom," London-based Free Tibet said in a statement Friday.
She also called out "Let His Holiness Return to Tibet" as she was on fire, the group said, a reference to the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who has lived for decades in exile in India.
The Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet also reported the immolation, but used a slightly different spelling for the nun's name.
The groups said security personnel and police used extinguishers to put out the flames and took Yeshi Khando away, and that local sources believed she died.
A woman reached at the Ganzi county government denied that any self-immolation happened on Wednesday and hung up. Calls to the county police office rang unanswered. Yeshi Khando's nunnery could not be contacted.
Tibetan monks and nuns are among the most active opponents of Chinese rule in the region and face some of the harshest restrictions on their activities. Earlier this week, Tibet's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo has demanded that Buddhist monasteries display the national flag as part of efforts to shore up Chinese patriotism.
Dozens of Tibetan Buddhist monks and laypeople have set themselves on fire in protest of Beijing's strict controls over the region and their religion and to call for the return of the Dalai Lama, according to the overseas rights groups.
The International Campaign for Tibet says 113 men and 24 women have self-immolated since March 2011, the vast majority of whom have died.
Beijing blames the Dalai Lama and others for inciting the immolations and says it has made vast investments to boost the region's economy and improve the quality of life for Tibetans. The Dalai Lama says he is against all violence.