Skip to main content

4 Tibetans burn themselves as Chinese leaders meet

From Harmeet Singh and Eve Bower, CNN
November 9, 2012 -- Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT)
(File photo) Exiled Tibetans pray as they mourn those who died in protest against Chinese rule on October 6, 2012.
(File photo) Exiled Tibetans pray as they mourn those who died in protest against Chinese rule on October 6, 2012.
  • Two of the protesters die
  • Self-immolation is a common form of protest for Tibetans
  • They want genuine autonomy from China

New Delhi (CNN) -- Four Tibetans set themselves on fire Wednesday to protest Chinese rule ahead, hours before a key gathering of Communist Party's leaders in Beijing.

At least two of the protesters died, said the Tibetan government in exile in India, citing sources on the ground.

Rights group Free Tibet says the four self-immolations represent the highest number of such incidents in one day.

Hours later, Chinese leaders gathered Thursday for the Communist Party's 18th National Congress in Beijing. The days-long gathering will usher in a new set of leaders of the world's most populous nation.

Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations

After a decade in power, Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to hand over the party's top job to Vice President Xi Jinping.

One of the dead Wednesday was a 15-year-old monk, who set himself alight with two other monks in a majority Tibetan region of Sichuan Province, said the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. They cried "freedom for Tibet" and for the "return of the Dalai Lama." The other two monks, both 16, were hospitalized.

The boys were from the same monastery in Ngaba county, where CNN has reported a number of such incidents in the past.

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old woman died after setting herself on fire in Rebkong county (Tongren county in Chinese), which is in the Qinghai Province, said exile Tibetan government spokesman Penpa Tsering in Dharamsala, India.

Self-immolation is a common form of protest for Tibetans who want genuine autonomy from China and accuse Beijing of repression.

China began a gradual occupation of Tibet in the 1950's. Tibet's leader, the Dalai Lama, fled for India in 1959 after a failed uprising, and many ethnic Tibetans followed him.

Beijing rejects accusations of oppression of Tibetans, saying that under its rule, living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people. It makes centuries-old historical claims on the region.

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh reported from New Delhi and Eve Bower from Atlanta.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.