Tibetan burns himself to death in China protest

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A writer who spoke out against Chinese repression of Tibet has burned himself to death, a rights group said, the 53rd person to set themselves ablaze protesting Beijing's rule.

The International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement that Gudrub, 42, called for freedom for the region and the return of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama while flames engulfed him in Tibet's Nagchu county on Thursday.

Gudrub, who was only identified by one name, was taken to a local hospital by authorities where he was pronounced dead, the London-based group said, citing multiple exile Tibetan media outlets.

Calls to authorities in Nagchu on Saturday went unanswered.

China's Tibetan-inhabited areas have seen an explosion in such protests since February 2009, with at least 53 Tibetans setting themselves alight, mostly since March last year, the campaign said.

"Tibetans who are concerned about the welfare of the people are subjected to arbitrary arrests and beatings," Gudrub wrote earlier this year in an essay translated by the Tibetan service of the US-based Voice of America.

"Tibetans who refuse to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama or accept China's rule (of) Tibet are secretly killed or made to disappear."

As a result, Gudrub added, Tibetans "are sharpening our non-violent movement (and) declaring the reality of Tibet by burning our own bodies to call for freedom in Tibet."

Gudrub's death comes after a 27-year-old Tibetan man named Yangdang self-immolated on September 29 in Dzato county, a Tibetan-inhabited region in northwest China's Qinghai province, the campaign said.

The recent incidents come after the prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile last week called on the international community to resist growing pressure from China and stand up for human rights in his homeland.

Lobsang Sangay, who last year took over political duties from revered Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, said that spate of self-immolation protests were proof of severe Chinese repression in Tibet.

"Now I have more responsibilities, the Chinese government is raising pressure on the West," Sangay told a meeting in the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamshala. "We have to re-establish our strong contacts with these countries."

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