China's Tibetans live in fear, Dalai Lama says

The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama said Tibetans in China are living in fear as a string of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule continue, the Tibetan government-in-exile said Wednesday.

"Over the last 60 years, some of the time, things have been good, some of the time they have been bad and some of the time, like now, they have been very serious," the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying by the Central Tibetan Administration.

"Tibetans have suffered a lot. Now the whole of Tibet is full of fear," he said, commenting on the 119 cases of self-immolation that have taken place since 2009.

The latest victim, a 31-year-old nun identified as Wangchen Dolma, died days after burning herself June 11 in the Ganzi Tibetan autonomous region in western China's Sichuan Province.

Thousands of people attended a prayer service for Wangchen in the Indian city Dharamsala, the center of Tibetan exile, to show respect for and solidarity with all self-immolators.

They also called for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans, the government-in-exile said.

According to the Phayul Tibetan news portal, Chinese authorities cremated Wangchen without informing her family.

Her family was kept under house arrest, preventing them from performing Tibetan death rituals.

China denies pursuing repressive policies in Tibet and insists it is bringing prosperity to the region.

It vilifies the Dalai Lama as a separatist and derides his quest for autonomy for Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Around 140,000 Tibetans live in exile, with an estimated 100,000 residing in India.