Two Tibetans 'die after self-immolation in China'

Exile Tibetans in India participate in a candle lit vigil to mark the two latest self-immolations in Tibet. Thursday, April 19, 2012 Many Tibetans have accused China of political and religious repression

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Two Tibetan men have died after setting themselves on fire in front of a monastery in Sichuan province, south-west China, rights groups say.

Sonam Kyap and Choephak Kyap were both in their twenties.

There have now been at least 34 self-immolations over the past year, primarily among Buddhist monks and nuns - most of them have died.

The region has seen a string of self-immolations to protest against Beijing's rule of Tibet.

After they set themselves on fire, the two men appeared critically injured and were taken away by local residents, reports say. But rights groups said the men later died.

Verifying these accounts is difficult, as foreign media are not allowed into the area.

China's leaders say the Tibetan areas are an inseparable part of the country, and that its sovereignty over Tibet goes back centuries.

They also claim that the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' exiled spiritual leader, is responsible for inciting the self-immolations and encouraging separatism, something he denies.

Many Tibetans claim that Tibet is an independent country that was colonised by China, and accuse China of political and religious repression.

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