Tibet ex-monk dies after self-immolation, activists say

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 Tibetan Buddhist monk is reported to have died several days after setting himself on fire in protest at Chinese rule in Tibet.

Tenzin Phuntsog died of his burns in hospital on 6 December, an overseas Tibetan rights group said.

Chinese officials in Tibet have not confirmed his death.

There has been a series of self-immolations in ethnically Tibetan parts of China this year, but this was the first reported in Tibet itself.

Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, died in Chamdo hospital in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, according to the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, quoting unidentified sources.

Chamdo is known as Changdu in Chinese.

His death was also reported by the website Phayul, run by Tibetans based in India, quoting a member of Tibet's self-styled parliament-in-exile.

Rights groups said he had set himself on fire on 1 December near the Karma monastery after scattering leaflets criticising Beijing and shouting anti-China slogans.

Chinese police reportedly put out the flames.

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

The Associated Press news agency quoted an official at Changdu county police station as saying he was not aware of any self-immolations in the region.

Twelve former and serving Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves on fire this year, activists say: the others were all in ethnically Tibetan parts of Sichuan province.

Seven of them are reported to have died.

China has denounced the self-immolations, saying they are against Buddhism and accusing Tibetan exiles of encouraging them.

Tibetan rights groups say they are a sign of desperation at increased Chinese repression.

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