Tibetan lights self afire at anti-China protest

New Delhi, March 26: A Tibetan protester lit himself on fire at a demonstration Monday in the Indian capital ahead of a visit by China's president.
The protester was engulfed in flames as he ran near the speakers at the rally near the Indian Parliament. Fellow activists beat out the flames with Tibetan flags they were carrying.

The protester was being treated for severe burns at a New Delhi hospital, a Tibetan organizer said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to arrive in India later this week for a summit meeting.

More than 600 protesters, carrying banners and posters marched across New Delhi to a central plaza near the Indian Parliament to hold a protest meeting. Some carried posters saying "Tibet is burning" and "Tibet is not part of China."

At the protest venue a big poster with Hu's face with a bloody palm print on it said: "Hu Jin Tao is unwelcome" at the summit.

As speakers addressed the crowd, the protester set himself ablaze and ran across the venue. He ran nearly 50 yards (50 meters) before he collapsed.

Tibetan protesters crowded around the man, some trying to put out the blaze with Tibetan flags, while others poured water on him.

They initially prevented police from taking the man to the hospital, before some policemen forcibly took him away from the protest site.

"This is what China faces unless they give freedom to Tibet," said Tenzin Dorjee, a young onlooker.

At least 30 people in Tibet have set themselves on fire over the past year to protest Chinese rule over their homeland. The Dalai Lama has blamed China's "ruthless policy" for the self-immolations. China accuses the Dalai Lama of stirring up trouble.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory. Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries. (AP)   

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