New Tibetan Self-Immolation in China: Rights Groups

A Tibetan mother-of-two has died after setting herself on fire, rights groups said, the latest in a wave of such protests against Chinese rule.

Chagmo Kyi, who worked as a taxi driver and farmer, set herself on fire in Tongren county in China's northwest Qinghai province yesterday, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a release.

The incident was also reported by London-based rights group Free Tibet, which identified the woman as Chakmokyi, a slightly different spelling.

Both groups said monks and others gathered after the death at a cremation site amid what was described as a heavy security presence.

If confirmed, the latest incident would bring the total number of people who have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas to 13 since November 7 -- the day before the start of a key Chinese Communist Party meeting in Beijing.

Telephones at Tongren's public security bureau and county government went unanswered early today. A man who answered the phone at a household appliance business said he had no knowledge of the incident.

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. Beijing points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

The week-long Communist Party meeting concluded on Wednesday and the following day the party unveiled its new top leadership with Vice President Xi Jinping as party general secretary, succeeding President Hu Jintao.

Xi is set to replace Hu as president in March next year.

Since 2009, 69 people have set themselves on fire in protest at Chinese rule in Tibet, of whom 54 have died, the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile had said before the latest wave of incidents.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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