October 09, 2011 14:01 IST: Thirteen Tibetans were arrested on Sunday for picketing before the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, India, sources said. According to police, seven women and six men were held after they shouted slogans against the "illegal Chinese occupation of Tibet".
The group of Tibetan exiles protested outside the Chinese embassy, refusing to move. Police were called in to physically remove them. The protesters were then bundled into buses.
The picketing is believed to have been in response to the self-immolation of two Tibetan monks in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture in southwest China. The monks protest against the Chinese government occurred just two days before the New Delhi protest.
There were similar protests in Dharmsala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. Commenting on the self-immolation attempt, Thupten Samphal, official spokesperson of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said the monks extreme step was a bid to show the world ''the degree of unhappiness Chinese rule imposes on Tibet. A rule which also undermines the Tibetan way of life and Tibetan identity."
A number of contradictory reports have emerged following the incident. China's news agency, Xinhua confirmed that two young Tibetan men set themselves on fire in Aba prefecture on Friday. It also cited an Aba county spokesman as saying that the non-practising monks were rescued and were being treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
However, the public security bureau in Aba denied any knowledge of an incident. "Nothing like that happened here. I am not aware of the situation," a spokeswoman told Reuters. This was despite claims that police officers had helped extinguish the flames and beaten the men as they took them to hospital. The survival of the one of the monks has also been questioned. The Free Tibet website reported that locals in Aba prefecture believed one of the monks had died at the scene.
"There are many courageous young Tibetans who are determined to draw global attention to one of the world's greatest and longest-standing human rights crises no matter the cost to themselves," Free Tibet's director, Stephanie Brigden, said.