Tibetan Buddhist monk dies after setting himself on fire

by K J M Varma, PTI, Mar 17, 2011

Beijing, China -- A Tibetan Buddhist monk who had set himself on fire in southwest China''s Sichuan Province in an anti-government protest died today, local officials said.

The 24-year-old monk died early today, more than 10 hours after setting himself on fire, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Phuntsog set himself on fire in Aba county of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture last evening, a county government spokesman said.

He blamed Phuntsog''s death on treatment delays.

The spokesman said though police rushed him to a nearby hospital, fellow monks from the Kirti Monastery had forcibly took Phuntsog out and hid him in the monastery until nearly 3 a.m. today.

He said the monk died at around 3:44 a.m.

The self immolation bid comes two days after the third anniversary of the March 14 riots in Tibetan capital Lhasa in which 19 people were killed and several hundred wounded.

China blamed Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama for instigating the riots by mobs headed by monks apparently to protest the presence of main land Chinese workers in various development projects.

A 28-year-old vegetable seller set himself on fire on December 17 in north African country Tunisia, triggering a mass uprising that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

At least a dozen other copycat burnings, which appear to be in protest of economic conditions and anti-government protests, have been reported in Arab nations in recent weeks.