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Worldcrunch

Violent Student Protests And Self-Immolations After China Ridicules Tibetan Culture

RADIO FREE ASIA (USA), FREE TIBET (UK), AFP (France)

Worldcrunch

Four more Tibetans have set themselves alight, following protests against a Chinese government leaflet ridiculing Tibetan culture.

U.S.-based Free Radio Asia reports that sources inside Tibet say that two of the self-immolations took place during protests in China's Gansu and Sichuan provinces on Monday. A 17-year-old nun had set herself alight in Qinghai province on Sunday.

Of the four Tibetans who set themselves on fire, all in their twenties or teens, three have reportedly died.

The Tibetan flag

The protests were in response to an official Chinese leaflet, which ridiculed the Tibetan language and condemned the act of self-immolation.

UK-based Free Tibet website reported yesterday that around 1,000 students gathered for a demonstration in Chabcha County, Qinghai province, after the leaflets were handed out to students.

Like Gansu and Sichuan, Qinghai province has a sizable Tibetan population.

Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan in southwest China

Free Tibet reports that at least 20 students were hospitalized after protesters clashed with police officers, with at least four of the students requiring emergency medical treatment.

It remains unclear as to what exactly happened during the protest; however, Radio Free Asia cites a source as saying that armed forces and paramilitary "cracked down" on the students.

Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden told AFP, "Although we cannot confirm whether security forces beat students or not, it would appear that the change in Chinese leadership has not led to a change in the brutality which passes for government in Tibet."

The school was subsequently put under a military lockdown with parents denied entry to see their children.

The separate incidents put the number of self-immolations this month at 21, and 85 since 2009, all in protest against Chinese rule.

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