Beijing: The exiled head of a Tibetan
monastery in China has described it as a "virtual prison",
saying monks are taking their lives in despair after two men
set themselves alight over alleged repression.
The attempted self-immolations happened on Friday near
Kirti monastery in the southwestern province of Sichuan, the
scene of repeated protests since early this year as monks
complain their religious freedom is being flouted.
Citing exiled Tibetan sources, the International Campaign
for Tibet (ICT) said the two who set themselves on fire were
former monks and had died, but a local official said they
were still alive.
According to the exiled head of the monastery -- who now
lives in Dharamshala where the Tibetan government-in-exile is
based -- people`s lives in the area have become so intolerable
they are choosing to die, ICT said.
"With the Chinese government making arbitrary arrests and
passing unimaginably harsh sentences on the basis of false
representations and allegations, for month after month, (the
monastery) has been turned into a virtual prison," Kirti
"All the monks, young and old, (are) subjected day and
night to deprivation of all freedoms," he told ICT.
"Tibetan religion and culture is under such unthinkable
repression that it has reached a point of desperation where
people would choose to die rather than go on living."
Many Tibetans in China are angry about what they view as
increasing domination by the country`s majority Han ethnic
group, the erosion of their culture and alleged religious