A Tibetan mother-of-four has died after setting herself on fire in south-west China to protest against Chinese rule, according to activists.
The UK-based Free Tibet group said the woman, identified as Rinchen, a 32-year-old mother of four, set herself on fire near the Kirti Monastery in Aba prefecture in Sichuan province, ABC News reported.
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Foreign media are restricted from accessing Tibetan areas, making it difficult to confirm Free Tibet’s claim, the Associated Press reported.
If confirmed, it would be the latest in a series of self-immolations in the Tibetan areas of the country and a sign, the BBC reports, of growing unrest.
According to VOA, more than 20 Tibetans have self-immolated since March last year to protest what they say is the Chinese government's repression of Tibet's culture and religion.
The AP quoted Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden as saying in a statement: "Tibetans are living under de facto martial law. China’s response to protests — which are increasingly widespread — has been to intensify repression and surveillance, pushing Tibet deeper into crisis."
But officials in Beijing have described the self-immolations as a form of terrorism, accusing the Dalai Lama — the exiled Tibetan leader — of supporting them, VOA adds.
According to the AP, Tibetans mark several anniversaries in March, including the revolt against China that caused the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959 and deadly anti-government riots in Lhasa in 2008.
In November 2011, a shocking video emerged that Tibetan activists said showed the most graphic images yet seen of what has been described as a growing protest movement of monks and nuns setting themselves on fire.
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