Chinese security forces in Lhasa have rounded up hundreds of residents and pilgrims in the wake of a fiery weekend self-immolation protest in Tibet’s capital, Radio Free Asia reports, as the Tibetan burnings in protest against Chinese rule rage on.
Locals detained are being held in detention centers in and around Lhasa while many of those from outside the Tibet Autonomous Region have been expelled, sources said, with one estimating that about 600 Tibetans had been detained so far.
The move came amid a security crackdown by Chinese security forces since two young Tibetan men set themselves ablaze on May 27 in front of Lhasa’s famed Jokhang Temple to protest China’s rule in Tibetan regions. One of them died and the other was taken to hospital, state media reported.
The self-immolations were the first reported in the Tibetan capital. Nearly all of the previous 35 burnings by Tibetans challenging rule by Beijing and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama had taken place in China’s Tibetan-populated provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu. On Wednesday, in the latest self-immolation, a Tibetan woman set herself ablaze in Dzamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the epicenter of the burnings which began in February 2009.
“Following the self-immolations, pilgrims from Kham and Amdo [regions located mainly in Sichuan, Qinhai, and Gansu provinces as well as in parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region] are being arbitrarily rounded up, with some being expelled from Lhasa,” a Tibetan woman living in the area said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The frequency of immolations has increased over the past year, with at least 22 incidents recorded since the start of 2012, according to the International Campaign for Tibet.