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Dharamshala: - A high-ranking Tibetan religious figure and his niece, a nun, have died in self-immolation protests against Chinese rule. The Tibet Post International reported about the incident that happened almost a year ago.

The Central Tibetan Administration Wednesday said that reports coming out of Tibet confirmed Tulku Athup alias Thupten Nyendak Rinpoche, 45, and his niece Atse, 23, self-immolated at the former's residence in Dzogchen monastery on 6 April 2012 for the cause of Tibet.

According to the reports, few days before the immolation,Tulku Athup said he would light many butter lamps for all those who have self-immolated for the cause of Tibet. He also asked his students to engage in meritorious activities like saving of animal lives.

On the day of his self-immolation, he told his family on phone: "Today I am ending my life with ease by offering butter lamps for all those Tibetans who have set themselves on fire for the cause of Tibet". Immediately after making the call, he and his niece set themselves on fire.

Chinese police from Dartsedo immediately arrived at Dzogchen monastery. Fearing closure of the monastery, the monastery officials told the police that Tulku Athup and his niece died due to accidental fire in the house rather than self-immolation.

Tibet 116Chinese police then withdrew from the monastery. Since then the authorities have imposed severe restrictions across the region and cracked down on local Tibetans leaving many of them severely injured.

Tulku Athup joined Lhakang Dragkhar monastery in Minyak, Kham at a young age and later studied at Drepung monastery in Lhasa and Kirti monastery in Ngaba.

This incidents has pushed the total number of self-immolations in Tibet to 113 since 2009, 95 of them reportedly passed-away due to burn injuries.

The most common call for the return of the spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, the preservation of the Tibetan language, and an end to restrictions on freedom of religion. However, many also called for Tibetan independence.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com