An exiled Tibetan monk doused himself in gasoline before lighting himself on fire in a cafe in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, in the 100th self-immolation protest against Chinese communist rule over Tibet. Most self-immolations have occurred in the last 18 months.
Witnesses told the Free Tibet rights group that the man went inside the cafe’s bathroom before emerging on the street and set himself on fire. The unidentified man chanted slogans against Chinese rule in Tibet while on fire.
Police officials told The Associated Press that after the man collapsed, officers and locals were able to douse the flames and then took him to the hospital. He is said to be in critical condition.
Prasant Tamang, a waiter at the Golden Eye Cafe, told the news agency that he discovered a gasoline container, a bag, and a jacket in the bathroom.
“He looked like the hundreds of Tibetans who came to Boudhanath today and I did not suspect he was going to set himself on fire,” Tamang said. Boudhanath is a district in Kathmandu.
The International Campaign for Tibet said the incident in Nepal marks the 100th Tibetan to self-immolate in a fiery protest campaign that began in February 2009.
The group said on Wednesday that it just received information that a monk in his 30s set himself on fire around two weeks ago inside China, in Sichuan Province.
There was upswing in the number of self-immolations last year, particularly around the time of the 18th National Party Congress in November. The majority involve Buddhist monks or nuns who are calling for an end to restrictions on religious freedom, and want to see the Dalai Lama return to Tibet.
Outside of China, the self-immolations are rare and are viewed as acts of desperation against oppressive Chinese Communist Party rule. But last year, a 26-year-old Tibetan set himself on fire in New Delhi, India, around the time then Chinese leader Hu Jintao visited the country.
The fiery protests appear to have shaken the Chinese Communist Party, which has imposed harsher security measures on Tibetan areas in recent months, including completely cutting off electricity and telecommunications following the self-immolations.
Last week, state-run CCTV aired a documentary that blamed U.S. media agency Voice of America for inciting the self-immolations. Meanwhile, dozens of Tibetans have been arrested in connection with the protests.