A young, single mother and three young monks are the latest Tibetans to set themselves on fire to protest Chinese policies in Tibet.
VOA Tibetan reports all four burned themselves Wednesday and the mother and one of the monks have died.
The mother, 23-year-old Tamding Tso, set herself ablaze in Rebkong in eastern Tibet. Witnesses say she called for the return of the Dalai Lama as she died.
She is survived by a five-year-old son. Sources close to the family say she may have been planning her self-immolation for several months and had spent considerable time fasting and praying after hearing about other self-immolations.
The three monks who set themselves on fire have been identified as 15-year-old Dorje and 16-year-olds Samdup and Dorje Kyap, all from the Ngoshul Monastery in Goman Township.
Witnesses say the three monks self-immolated outside a police station and the 15-year-old died on the scene. They say Chinese security officials took the two 16-year-olds to a hospital. There has been no further word on their fate.
Wednesday's protests bring the total number of self-immolations to at least at least 67 since February of 2009. In 53 cases, the protesters have died.
China is preparing for its once-in-a-decade leadership transition during the country's 18th Party Congress, which starts Thursday in the heavily-guarded capital of Beijing. In advance of that meeting, Tibet's government-in-exile pleaded with China to change its approach to the issue of Tibet.
Parliament Speaker Pempa Tsering says it may be the only way to stop the deadly protests.
"We urge the Chinese leadership to immediately stop its error-ridden policy of denigrating and accusing His Holiness the Dalai Lama with exaggerated and distorted statements," he said. "Such statements, coupled with the measure to deny displays of his Holiness' pictures, causes immense pain in the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people."
But the speaker also lamented that many Tibetans feel they have no choice but to burn themselves alive to make their cries heard.
"The Tibetan administration expresses not only the deepest concern on the growing tragic cases of self-immolations by Tibetans all over Tibet in protest against the repressive policies of the Chinese government, but also recognizes these drastic actions as the highest form of non-violent activity for the larger interest of the suppressed," he said.
China has long accused Tibetan exiles of self-immolating as part of a separatist struggle, denouncing them as terrorists.
VOA's Tibetan service reported last month the offer of cash rewards in China's Gannan prefecture, called Kanlho prefecture by Tibetans. Posters promised $8,000 to anyone who provides information "on the people who plan, incite to carry out, control and lure people to commit self-immolation."
Article by VOA News