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Dharamshala, India: Tens of thousands-perhaps many more-of Tibetans protested in Drag-go town, eastern Tibet to against Chinese rule today (Monday, January 23rd) in an effort to show their strong solidarity with recent self-immolation protests and demand civil and religious freedom.

Sources said that armed Chinese security forces opened fire on a Tibetan crowd when a mass protest occurred in the region to protest against Chinese repression, a 49 year old Tibetan man called Yonten has been shot and killed, over 15 Tibetans were injured, another man seriously wounded and more than two hundred arrested in the incident. The body of Yonten is reportedly in the Drag-go Monastery and the situation continues to be very tense in the area.

The report said that the incident began around 2.30pm Beijing time, Monday, January 23rd. Over ten thousands Tibetans from two counties, Tao and Drag-go of eastern Tibet gathered at the Drag-go town and shouted slogans such as "we want freedom," and "the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet." "Many protesters carried Tibetan national flags, Chinese forces also fired tear gas to break up the protest by Tibetans," according to an information received by The Tibet Post.

Many leaflets and posters were distributed that warned of more Tibetan self-immolations if the Chinese government did not listen to Tibetan concerns. Source stated that leaflets had appeared a few days earlier in and around Drag-go town.

Some media reports today said at-least two Tibetans were killed and hundreds were seriously injured in the latest demonstration. The self-immolation and the protests signal that anger is swelling in eastern Tibet (Ch: Karze, Sichuan province) that has been the centre of defiance against Chinese control.

The big incident is the latest to hit the region, where tensions are high following a spate of self-immolation protests triggered by perceived religious and repression.

"We call on China to respect the Tibetan people's right to express themselves and look into the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people," said in a statement issued by the Tibetan Parliament in exile. "While understanding the international community's interest in maintaining closer relationship with China, how can the international community remain mute to the sufferings of the Tibetan people," it stated. "We appeal to you to rise up to the occasion and impress on China to find a lasting solution to the Issue of Tibet."

''The 17 self-immolation protests and deaths in Tibet, including the 2009 self-immolation by Tibetan monk Tapey pose important questions on the nature of Chinese rule in Tibet,'' Ms. Tsering Tsomo, the executive director of the exiled Tibetan Human Rights group (TCHRD) told reporters in Dharamshala just hours before the incident.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com