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Tibetan Exile Jampa Yeshi Sets Himself on Fire during Anti-China Protest Ahead of Hu’s India Visit

March 26, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Asia/Pacific, Protests with 0 Comments

(Photo: Manish Swarup/AP)

A Tibetan exile living in India set himself ablaze in New Delhi on Monday during an anti-China protest ahead of a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The Associated Press reports that 27-year-old Jampa Yeshi doused himself with a flammable liquid and ran past a podium where activists were denouncing China’s 63-year-long occupation of Tibet and Hu’s visit.

Some of the activists extinguished the flaming Yeshi with Tibetan flags and water. He burned for around two minutes and sustained burns over 98% of his body. He is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

Yeshi escaped from Tibet into India in 2006 and has been living in New Delhi, the capital, for the last two years.

Following Yeshi’s extreme act of protest, Indian police cleared the demonstration and rounded up scores of Tibetans. Security has been tight ahead of Hu’s Wednesday arrival. He will be attending a summit of leader from the so-called BRICS— Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Tenzing Norang, an official with the Tibetan Youth Congress, blamed China for Yeshi’s  self-immolation.

“If you care about peace you should raise the issue of Tibet,” he told the AP. “Hu Jintao is responsible for what is happening here.”

Some 30 people have set themselves on fire over the past year in protest of China’s continued occupation of Tibet and Beijing’s ruthless oppression of the Tibetan people and culture. Protesters want China to end the occupation and they seek the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, to his homeland. He fled in 1959 during a failed revolt against Beijing rule.

China claims Tibet has always been Chinese territory and stubbornly refuses to negotiate with Tibetans on the issue of  autonomy.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports that Jampa Yeshi has died.

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