By Ma Latang
China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency, has confirmed the self-immolation of Tenzin Choezin (丹珍曲增), a teenage Tibetan nun Tenzin Choezin in Aba, Sichuan Province.
In a terse release issued through its English service, Xinhua said the nun set herself on fire on Feb 11 and died on the way to hospital.
According to the Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet, the 19-year-old nun from Dechen Chokorling Nunnery (also known as Mamae Nunnery) was chanting protest slogans as she set herself on fire, and was immediately taken away by the police.
A series of self-immolations have taken place in Sichuan province’s Aba and Ganzi regions, both of which are home to many Tibetans.
Activist groups say at least 20 Tibetans have died due from the self-immolations. and Tenzin Choezin is believed to be the second woman who has voiced her dissent in this way.
In response to the protests, Beijing has deployed a heavy police presence throughout these regions and in Tibet itself.
BBC’s Damian Grammaticas says local authorities forced him to sign a document that he would not attempt to enter the area and warned that his visa could be cancelled in just two days.
Earlier, reports of shootouts on Tibetan protestors in the first few days of the Chinese New Year led Lobsang Sangay, Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan government-in-exile, to release a statement calling upon Tibetans to halt celebrations of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
Activist groups say Beijing’s repressive policies against the Tibetan people and culture are to blame for the unrest and violence, but the Chinese authorities maintain that those self-immolations are conducted by “a small fraction of separatists” and the “Dalai clique”, and that “appropriate” government actions have been taken to “meet the desire of Tibetan communities for stability.”