A 21-year old Tibetan Buddhist monk named Phunstog set himself on fire today in western China, apparently in protest of China’s policy toward Tibetans . Via Reuters:

The self-immolation appeared to be a small repeat of protests that gripped Tibetan areas of China in March 2008, when Buddhist monks and other Tibetan people loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama, their traditional religious leader, confronted police and troops.

The 21-year-old, named Phuntsog, was a monk in Aba, a mainly ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province that erupted in defiance against Chinese control three years ago.

The monk “immolated himself today in protest against the crackdown,” said Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet, a London-based organization.

“He shouted some slogans about freedom when he did it,” said Zorgyi, a researcher for the organization, who is based in northern India, where many exiled Tibetans live.

“We’ve also received widespread information about a protest with nearly one thousand monks and lay people that came after,” Zorgyi said. Police moved in to suppress the protest and arrested some monks, he said. Repeated calls to police and government offices in Aba were not answered. One officer who answered the phone said, “Nothing is wrong.”

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