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Two more monks set themselves alight in China

updated 6:13 AM EST, Mon January 9, 2012
A candle vigil in memory of the recent self immolation cases during the Kalachakra Festival in Bodhgaya, India on January 8.
A candle vigil in memory of the recent self immolation cases during the Kalachakra Festival in Bodhgaya, India on January 8.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • State media: 22-year-old man set himself ablaze at a crossroad in Aba county Friday
  • Another man died later that day after setting himself alight in a hotel nearby
  • Tibetan campaign groups say the men were protesting against Chinese rule
  • China consistently rejects accusations of oppression of Tibetans

(CNN) -- A former Tibetan monk has died and another is seriously injured after setting themselves on fire in southwest China's Sichuan province on Friday -- the 13th and 14th acts of self-immolation in the country since March.

A 22-year-old man set himself ablaze at a crossroad in Aba county in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture before police put the fire out and sent him to a local hospital, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Another man, believed to be 18 years old, died later that day after setting himself alight in a hotel nearby, Xinhua reported local officials as saying.

However an Aba government spokesperson told CNN she was unaware of the incident.

Tibetan campaign groups say the men were protesting against Chinese rule.

We can only expect that such acts of protest will continue for as long as world leaders turn a blind eye to the desperate situation in Tibet.
Stephanie Brigden, Free Tibet

"These latest self-immolations confirm that what we are currently witnessing in Tibet is a sustained and profound rejection of the Chinese occupation," said Stephanie Brigden, director of London-based Free Tibet, which advocates Tibetan independence.

"It is a damning indictment of the international community that 14 people, in different parts of Tibet, have now chosen to set themselves on fire and the international community has failed to respond.

"We can only expect that such acts of protest will continue for as long as world leaders turn a blind eye to the desperate situation in Tibet."

Most of the suicide attempts occurred in Aba Prefecture and the Kirti monastery, also in Sichuan, which has become a focal point for ethnic Tibetans angry at the erosion of their culture.

But China rejects accusations of oppression of Tibetans, saying its rule has greatly improved living standards for the Tibetan people.

It has accused the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader in exile, of encouraging people to harm themselves in this way -- a charge he denies.

The Dalai Lama's representative signed an agreement with Beijing in 1951 to affirm China's sovereignty over Tibet but also grant autonomy to the area. A failed uprising against Beijing's rule in 1959 forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

The Dalai Lama denies seeking independence for Tibet, saying he wants genuine autonomy, under which Tibetans can make their own policies on key issues, such as religious practices.

In a 2008 uprising, violent unrest in Tibet and the subsequent military crackdown left at least 18 dead, and activists say tensions have remained high in many areas since then.

CNN's Haolan Hong contributed to this report.

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