Moench, who set himself on fire

Tibetan monks set themselves on fire

According to a London-based action group, a Tibetan monk in China doused himself with petrol in protest and infected himself with it. As Matt Whitticase of the Free Tibet Campaign group said, the incident took place on Friday in the city of Aba in southwestern Sichuan province. The security forces were on the spot immediately and smothered the flames. Then the Buddhist monk was transported away. Eyewitnesses reported three shots. "We don't know if the monk is alive or dead," said Whitticase.

Protest against China
With the self-immolation, he wanted to protest against the fact that the authorities had prevented him from a traditional prayer. Before his action, he held up a flag with the portrait of the Dalai Lama. The New York-based organization Students for a Free Tibet said in a statement that the monk was hit by gunfire. Previously, reports had said that hundreds of fellow believers from the same monastery from which the monk came had tried unsuccessfully to gather for prayer in a temple that had been locked by the authorities on Friday.

After the founding of the Communist People's Republic in 1949, the Chinese People's Liberation Army marched into Tibet, the largest highlands on earth, in 1950. Under pressure, Tibetan representatives gave up their independence in an agreement in 1951, but were granted extensive autonomy. As the Chinese presence in Tibet developed more and more into a dictatorship, unrest broke out repeatedly, culminating in the popular uprising on March 10, 1959, which was bloodily suppressed. Thousands of Tibetans were killed.