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Monk who self-immolated called for Dalai Lama return

Lama Sobha, also known as Sonam Wangyal, was the most senior of 16 Tibetan clerics and former monks to have set themselves alight in the past year.

Beijing: A senior Tibetan monk who
self-immolated last month urged Tibetans to unite and called
for the return of the Dalai Lama in a message recorded before
his death, advocacy groups said on Thursday.

Lama Sobha, also known as Sonam Wangyal, was the most
senior of 16 Tibetan clerics and former monks to have set
themselves alight in the past year in protest against China`s
policies in Tibetan-inhabited areas.

In the nine-minute audio recording, Lama Sobha said his
sacrifice was in solidarity with "heroes" who have died
seeking to protect Tibetan culture, the Washington-based
International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a statement.
The people of Tibet "must unite and work together to
build a strong and prosperous Tibetan nation in the future,"
the group quoted him as saying.

"I pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to
Tibet and remain as Tibet`s temporal and spiritual leader."

Tibet`s spiritual leader, winner of the Nobel Peace
Prize, fled into exile in 1959 following a failed uprising,
and is a considered a separatist by Beijing -- a charge he has
repeatedly denied.

The ICT also posted images of Lama Sobha`s charred body,
which it said were obtained by exiled Tibetans after the
self-immolation in Qinghai province, northwest China, on its

Lama Sabha`s recording was obtained by the US
government-run Radio Free Asia, the campaign said. AFP has
been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the

Tibetans have long chafed at China`s rule over the vast
Tibetan plateau, accusing Beijing of curbing religious
freedoms and eroding their culture and language.

Four of the self-immolations occurred last month as
violent anti-China protests in the southwestern province of
Sichuan -- which has big populations of Tibetans -- erupted.

Police shot dead at least two Tibetans in the unrest.
China has blamed "trained separatists" for the recent
wave of unrest, while the state-controlled Xinhua news agency
said Lama Sobha`s suicide was the result of a failed love

Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and
have benefited from improved living standards brought on by
China`s economic expansion.

The Lama, reported to be in his 40s, was known as a
"living Buddha" -- the reincarnation of a line of high-ranking


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