by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 15, 2013
Police in northwest China have arrested seven people accused of inciting an ethnic Tibetan villager to set himself ablaze, state media said Tuesday.
Dozens of ethnic Tibetans, many of them monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire in China in recent years to protest against Beijing's rule over Tibet.
Beijing accuses exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama of inciting the spate of burnings and of campaigning for independence.
It has ordered judicial departments to file murder charges against anyone caught aiding or abetting the fiery protests.
The arrests were made in Gansu province, the state news agency Xinhua said.
It quoted a police statement as saying the self-immolation of a 26-year-old in Hezou city last October was "masterminded by key members of the 'Tibetan Youth Congress' of the overseas Dalai clique".
In the latest reported case, a young Tibetan man died Saturday after setting himself ablaze in Gansu, according to the US-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) and London-based pressure group Free Tibet.
RFA says 96 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze in China since February 2009.
Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country's majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.
China rejects this, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. It points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, who says he is not seeking independence but greater autonomy, fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising. He has since based himself in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.
China News from SinoDaily.com
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