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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, July 19, 2018

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Tibetan monk dies after self-immolation in Nepal

Protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan populated areas in China

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KATHMANDU, Nepal - In a third Tibetan self-immolation in this tiny Himalayan nation, a monk burned himself and died in Nepal Tuesday in protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan populated areas in China.

The 39-year-old Karma Nyidun Gyaltso committed the suicide at the Boudhanath Stupa, a famous gathering place for Buddhist pilgrims in Kathmandu where many Tibetan exiles live, Radio Free Asia said citing unnamed sources.

Gyaltso is said to have lit butter lamps and recited prayers before setting himself ablaze. He was taken away in critical condition to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu where he was pronounced dead.

The Radio Free Asia (RFA) said scores of police converged at the shrine to beef up security in the area.

Gyaltso, who hails from Dangxiong county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, "set himself ablaze at the prostration site inside the scared Boudhanath Stupa," a source told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"I saw the Nepali police taking him away in a wooden stretcher," a second source said.

Police in Nepal have summoned local Tibetan community leaders for an "inquiry" over the self-immolation death, sources said.

Based on a document made available to RFA, Gyaltso, whose father's name is Jamyang Tashi and his mother's name is Uygen, had gone to India from Tibet before arriving in Nepal.

The incident is the third so far in Nepal and the fifth among Tibetan exiles.

The two previous self-immolations in Nepal also occurred at the Bouddhanath Stupa temple.

A total of 121 Tibetans in China have so far burned themselves in protest against Beijing's rule in Tibetan populated areas and demanded the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.

In February, a 25-year old Tibetan monk Drongchen Tsering set himself ablaze and died. His body was secretly cremated in Kathmandu late at night at the instruction of the Nepalese authorities without Buddhist or any religious rituals being carried out, despite appeals from the Tibetan community for monks to be in attendance to offer prayers.

The first Tibetan self-immolation in Nepal was reported in November 2011 when a monk identified as Bhutok set himself ablaze, wrapped in a Tibetan flag and shouting slogans calling for a free Tibet. Buddhist pilgrims at the stupa managed to quickly put out the flames and he survived.

About 20,000 Tibetan refugees have fled Chinese rule to live in Nepal. Beijing is becoming more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict their activities and to help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the shared border.

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