Two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire in China - sources

Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:35am GMT

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two young Tibetan monks set themselves on fire to protest against government religious controls in western China on Monday, two exiled Tibetan sources said, the third such protest this year that could spark fresh tension in the unstable region.

The 18-year-old monks, Kelsang and Kunchak, belong to the Kirti monastery -- a major site of protest against Chinese policies and the scene of a harsh crackdown by security forces in May -- one India-based exiled Tibetan activist, told Reuters.

The monks' self-immolations could lead to a renewed crackdown in Aba prefecture, a heavily ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province that many advocates of self-rule say should form part of a larger homeland under Tibetan control.

"When they set themselves on fire, they shouted: 'We need freedom of religion,'" said the activist, who asked not to be identified, adding that he obtained his information from at least five sources in China and overseas.

Both monks immolated themselves at 10 a.m. local time (0200GMT) on Monday, he said.

The two monks suffered slight burns and were in stable condition, state news agency Xinhua said, citing doctors. The report added that "the suicide attempt is under further investigation."

When asked about the self-immolations, Hu Jiang, an official from the Aba prefecture information office, told Reuters: "I don't know anything about it, I'm not quite clear."

Calls to the police bureau in Aba prefecture went unanswered.   Continued...

Tibetan monks living in Nepal pray during a 24-hour hunger strike at the Tibetan Youth Club in Kathmandu April 18, 2011, to express solidarity with compatriots who were victims of a Chinese crackdown in Ngaba, Sichuan Province last month. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
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