Two Tibetan Buddhist monks set themselves on fire outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa to protest against Chinese oppression, US based Radio Free Asia stated. They are the first-ever reported self-immolations in the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetans accuse Beijing of oppressing religious freedoms, culture and language that could result to the extinction of the ethnic group’s identity. Security forces arrived immediately to put out the fire and remove traces of the incident.
The city has been under heavy security with streets filled with police and paramilitary, while officers carried out frequent identity checks, since the deadly riots that broke out in 2008. More than 30 people set have themselves alight since March 2011 in protest against religious and cultural repression by China. Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and enjoys benefits from China’s economic growth. Chinese media made no mention of the incident and blocked internet searches.
China’s sensitivity over the Tibet issue was heightened when the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s religious and political leader, met with two British leaders and condemned the action as “interference”. Another ethnic group, the Uighurs, from the northwest region, have accused China of repression and called for reforms.