Two Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire as a protest against the Chinese government's tight controls over Buddhist practices. The two monks have suffered slight burns and are in stable condition.
In the Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture, an ethnic Tibetan part of the province that consists of those who advocate self-rule, two 18-year-old Kirti monastery monks self-immolated Monday in protest of the Chinese government’s crackdown and controls over Buddhist customs and traditions.
London’s Free Tibet campaign emailed the Associated Press and said the monks called for religious freedom and shouted “long live the Dalai Lama” before they set themselves on fire. They suffered slight burns and are in stable condition.
Reporters immediately called the Kirti Monastery's Administration Committee. One individual answered a call and said that he was unaware of the incident and was not aware of any reports citing such information. He refused to provide his name.
Kanyag Tsering, a Tibetan monk that belongs to the Kirti monastery in the Indian town of Dharamsala, told Reuters India that he has received information from 10 sources within Aba and the monastery and eyewitnesses that Chinese military authorities removed the bodies of the two monks.
Xinhua reports that the suicide attempt is under investigation.
Protests in the region have increased after the Chinese government said it will select the next Dalai Lama. Beijing views the Dalai Lama as a separatist and wants to choose someone who is more pro-China.
Over the weekend, the Dalai Lama said that if he is to be reincarnated then he will leave specific instructions on the process. He also noted in a statement that he will speak with Buddhist consultants to see if the purpose of the Dalai Lama should even continue.
Hong Lei, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a local news conference that Dalai Lamas have never chosen their own successors. “I would like to point out the title of the Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government and is otherwise illegal. The 14th Dalai Lama was approved by the then republican government,” said the spokesperson in an interview.