4 Tibetans burn themselves as Chinese leaders meet

(File photo) Exiled Tibetans pray as they mourn those who died in protest against Chinese rule on October 6, 2012.

Story highlights

  • Two of the protesters die
  • Self-immolation is a common form of protest for Tibetans
  • They want genuine autonomy from China

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.

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

Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations
Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations


    Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations


Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations 01:05

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 Recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      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.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      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.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      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.