Tibetan man self-immolates in Delhi to protest Chinese president's India visit


Tibetan exile Jampa Yeshi runs as he is engulfed in flames after he set himself on fire during a protest in New Delhi on March 26, 2012. A Tibetan exile set himself on fire on Monday during a rally in New Delhi to protest against an upcoming visit to India by Chinese President Hu Jintao, police said.



A Tibetan man set himself on fire today in Delhi to protest Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to India.

The Associated Press reported that the Tibetan exile, named as Jampa Yeshi, 26, was engulfed in flames as he ran through a rally near the Indian Parliament, where speakers were criticizing China and the visit by Hu. Bystanders beat out the flames and poured water on him, the AP said.

Yeshi is being treated for severe burns at a New Delhi hospital, where he is in critical condition, organizers of the protest told the AP.

According to Phayul, a website run by Tibetan exiles in India, Yeshi, "enveloped in high flames, came out running and shouting from a nearby closed compound" at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. 

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Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to arrive in India later this week for the March 28-29 meeting of the BRICS group of emerging economies, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Nearly 30 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the past year to protest Beijing's rule, according to the BBC.

Last year a 25-year-old Tibetan exile in India, Migmer Tenzin, set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. Tenzin told GlobalPost's India correspondent, Jason Overdorf, that he wanted to show solidarity with the plight of Tibetan monks and nuns in China.

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The Dalai Lama has blamed a "cultural genocide" in Tibet, under the Chinese government's hard-line approach to the region, for the self-immolations of monks and nuns.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans argue the region was virtually independent for centuries, and accuse Beijing of suppressing their religion and culture.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 after fleeing a failed uprising against Chinese rule. While the Dalai Lama now insists he seeks only more autonomy for his homeland, not independence, Beijing remains sensitive about Tibet amid continuing tensions.

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