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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan taxi driver latest to self-immolate

November 19, 2012

BEIJING, November 17, 2012 — A Tibetan taxi driver has set herself on fire and died in the latest of dozens of protests against Chinese rule over the Himalayan region, overseas rights groups said.

Chagmo Kyi, a mother of two, self-immolated Saturday afternoon in a square in Tongren county in western China’s Qinghai province, the eighth self-immolation in the Tongren area since November 4, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in an email.

According to the group, 75 people have self-immolated in ethnically Tibetan areas since February 2009, and most of them have died.

Tibet support groups overseas say an increase in protests the past two weeks was meant to highlight Tibetans’ unhappiness with Chinese rule as the country’s leaders handed over power to younger successors at a Communist Party congress in Beijing.

Tibetan delegates attending the congress told reporters they believed much of the blame for the spate of self-immolations fell on the Dalai Lama, Tibetans’ spiritual leader, and his associates, whom they said were instigating the protests.

The Dalai Lama and representatives of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India say they oppose all violence.

The International Campaign for Tibet reported that hundreds of Tibetans were surrounded by troops as they attended Chagmo Kyi’s cremation at a site normally used for the cremation of monks and lamas.

The group said the woman had frequently driven between Tongren and Xining, the provincial capital, and was also a farmer.

London-based Free Tibet also reported the self-immolation, and said at least 20 trucks, each carrying 20 armed police officers, were stationed at intersections in Tongren’s capital, Rongwo, where people have previously self-immolated in protest. It also said there were reports of cars, each with about five government officials inside, positioned every 20 paces along most streets, monitoring the population.

Authorities in Tongren and Huangnan prefecture, which oversees the county, either refused to comment or said they hadn’t heard about the self-immolation. Calls to Tongren police rang unanswered.

Independent verification of events and conditions in Tibet is nearly impossible because of restrictions on travel.

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