Tibetan who burned herself to death had head injury, China says
March 7, 2012 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Tibetans display portraits of people who killed themselves in self-immolation, during a protest in front of the Liberty Square in Taipei in October 2011.
- China says a Tibetan who set herself on fire had lost "her courage for life"
- Tibetan rights groups say Tibetans are self-immolating to protest Chinese rule
- Three Tibetans reportedly burned themselves to death between Saturday and Monday
- This month marks the anniversary of Tibetan protests in 2008 that ended in bloodshed
(CNN) -- A Tibetan student who died after setting herself on fire in western China had been experiencing difficulties following a head injury, the official Chinese news agency reported Wednesday.
The student, Tsering Kyi, was the first of three Tibetans who reportedly self-immolated between Saturday and Monday. It is the only one of the three alleged acts so far acknowledged by the Chinese authorities.
Tibetan advocacy groups say the self-immolations -- more than 20 of which are reported to have taken place in the past year -- are to protest Chinese rule.
They follow an increase in security measures by the Chinese authorities in response to unrest among Tibetans in western areas of China in recent months and ahead of the sensitive anniversary of protests by Tibetan monks four years ago that ended in bloodshed.
New realities for Tibetans in China
Tibet officials fired for neglect
CNN story blacked out in China
Activists say the disturbing acts reflect an increasingly repressive environment under China's control. Beijing rejects accusations of oppression of Tibetans, saying that under its rule living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people.
Chinese officials have described the self-immolations as "extreme" acts. The report Wednesday by Xinhua, the government news agency, suggested Tsering Kyi, 20, had been troubled by the aftereffects of a head injury before she set herself on fire in the county of Maqu, or Machu in Tibetan, in Gansu Province.
"She was sent to hospital and has had occasional fainting spells," Xinhua reported, citing the local police. "The medical treatment held up her studies and her school scores began to decline, which put a lot of pressure on her and made her lose her courage for life and study."
A local official said similarities in the self-immolations point to a transparent political motive and behind-the-scenes orchestration, Xinhua reported. The victims were used by separatists to create chaos, according to Wu Zegang, chief of the Aba prefecture in Sichuan province.
On Sunday, a mother of four named Rinchen died after setting herself alight in front of Kirti Monastery in the county of Aba, which Tibetans call Ngaba, in Sichuan Province, according to Tibetan advocacy groups like London-based Free Tibet.
And on Monday, an 18-year-old Tibetan man named Dorje burned himself to death in a nomadic area of Aba, according to advocacy groups. Local officials reached by telephone declined to comment on the matter.
It was not possible to independently verify the accounts of the self-immolations. China restricts journalists' access to the areas where they have been taking place.
This month will mark the fourth anniversary of protest marches by Tibetan monks in Lhasa that ended violently in 2008.
Tibetans say the situation escalated to violence when Chinese police beat monks who had been protesting peacefully; Chinese authorities claim Tibetans launched attacks on Chinese businesses. Officially the death toll is under 20; Tibetans in exile say the death toll is near 150.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
David McKenzie meets some American teenagers who are spending a year in China to be fully immersed in the culture.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
The Chinese government pledges to protect a boy with HIV, who was shunned by his entire village in Sichuan, state media reported.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 0503 GMT (1303 HKT)
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons for Beijing.
December 6, 2014 -- Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT)
At the height of his power, security chief Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0826 GMT (1626 HKT)
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)
Despite a high-profile anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past year.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
A 24-hour bookstore in Taipei is a popular hangout for both hipsters and bookworms.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees and defectors face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.