Tibetan nun said to immolate herself in anti-China protest
(Reuters) - An 18-year-old nun at a Tibetan Buddhist convent set herself on fire in southwest China to protest Chinese rule over Tibet, exiles and monitoring sources said on Sunday.
Tenzin Choedron, a nun at the Mamae convent in Sichuan province, survived the initial immolation on Saturday evening and was taken away by Chinese police and troops, said Kanyag Tsering, a monk at Kirti Monastery in the capital of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
"Soldiers surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off, and nothing more is known of the situation inside," Kanyag said from Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Stephanie Brigden, director of the group Free Tibet, also reported the case.
No other details were immediately available and the report could not be independently verified. The nun's convent is in Aba county (Ngaba in Tibetan) in Sichuan at the forefront of pro-Tibetan protests in recent months.
"We do not have any information about this," a female staffer with the Aba Autonomous Prefecture Police said by telephone.
Tenzin is the 22nd Tibetan in less than a year and the sixth this past week to self-immolate, Brigden said by email.
"We know many more Tibetans are willing to give their lives and Tibetans are protesting in the streets," Bridgen said.
A 20-year-old nun from the same convent, Tenzin Wangmo, set herself on fire in protest against the Chinese government in October last and died, according to Free Tibet.
Activists say China violently stamps out Tibetan religious freedom and culture in Tibet, a vast, remote and largely mountainous region of western China in the Himalayans that has been under Chinese control since 1950.
Protests by self-immolation are becoming more common in Tibet and in restive, ethnically Tibetan regions of China. At least 13 Tibetans are believed to have died from their injuries.
Speaking at a candle-lit vigil last week in Dharamsala, the prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, denounced what he called China's occupation and warned of impending military action by the Chinese.
"We have reports that hundreds of convoys carrying Chinese military personnel with automatic machine guns are moving towards Tibet," he added, ahead of the Tibetan new year on February 22.
The self-immolations are a small but potentially destabilising challenge to China's regional policies, and the government has branded the immolators as terrorists.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones, Abhishek Madhukar and Sally Huang; Editing by Ed Lane)