Tibet 'sees first monk self-immolation protest'

A monk meditates at a monastery in Sichuan province on 23 March 2008 Rights groups have long criticised China's treatment of Tibetan monks

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A former monk has set himself on fire in Tibet, reports say, in the latest such protest against Chinese rule.

The monk is reportedly being treated for his wounds after the protest in Changdu, known as Chamdo in Tibetan.

If confirmed, the incident would be the first self-immolation in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Activists say 11 monks and former monks have set themselves on fire this year, but the incidents have all taken place in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province.

Access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region is tightly restricted, and information is difficult to corroborate.

Radio Free Asia reported that the monk, a 46-year-old named as Tenzin Phuntsog, had scattered leaflets and shouted slogans before setting fire to himself on Thursday afternoon.

The US-based broadcaster quoted an anonymous source living in India, and another source calling from Tibet as confirming the incident.

"[The former monk] was very frustrated by the recent imposition of restrictions on Karma monastery and by the detention of many monks. There was even talk by Chinese officials of closing the monastery," the source in Tibet was quoted as saying.

The US-based International Campaign for Tibet said accounts of the incident had also been uploaded to Facebook and micro-blogs in the Tibetan language.

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