China is stamping out the flames of Tibetan dissent

Angus Walker

Former ITV News Correspondent

Nepalese police stand guard at Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu where a Tibetan monk self-immolated Credit: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

One hundred men, women and teenagers calling for independence for Tibet have set themselves on fire in China since 2009, according to the International Campaign for Tibet.

The grim milestone has been reached as Chinese authorities have launched their largest crackdown to stop the number growing even higher.

The latest self-immolation, a Tibetan monk in his twenties and an exile in Nepal, is in hospital with 95% burns.

Mingma, a local community leader told the AP news agency:

China insists it has brought much-needed investment to Tibet: Improving the way of life for nomadic herders, building roads and railways and growing the economy. What protesters call the 'invasion' of Tibet by China, is known as the 'peaceful liberation' by Chinese Party officials.

A survivor of self-immolation is interviewed on Chinese state TV

At Beijing's largest Tibetan temple, worshippers have been queuing to pay tribute to Buddhist effigies and to leave incense and offerings. It is Tibetan New Year, but also the time for anniversaries of uprisings against Chinese rule and so in Tibetan areas of China there is security on every street corner.

Police have rounded up 70 suspects, accusing some of sending images of suicide protests to international campaign groups and media.

On state TV, China's own media offensive, a young survivor is interviewed. "At first I thought I was a hero," he tells the reporter from CCTV. "Now I think I'm a fool." It is not clear if he was under arrest or under pressure.

Chinese state media blame the Dalai Lama for inciting protests and self-immolations Credit: REUTERS/Mike Cassese

The programme goes on to blame Tibet's holy leader, the Dalai Lama, of incitement and also accuses foreign media of sending secret coded messages urging people to set themselves on fire.

In recent days, Chinese courts have been handing down heavy sentences, including death, to those accused of inciting protests.

China is trying to stamp out the rising flames of Tibetan rebellion.