Two Tibetan cousins set fire to themselves in their village to protest Chinese rule, bringing the total number of self-immolations this week to seven, a rights group said today. Free Tibet said cousins Tsepo, 20, and Tenzin, 25, called for independence for Tibet as they set themselves ablaze Thursday in front of a government building in their village in Biru county north of Lhasa, Tibet's main city. Tsepo reportedly died and Tenzin's condition was unknown after he was taken away by authorities.
Dozens of ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire in heavily Tibetan regions since March 2011 to protest what activists say is Beijing's heavy-handed rule in the region. Many have called for the return of the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader. The protests have intensified as Beijing nears a once-a-decade power transfer in early November. Yesterday, a 24-year-old Tibetan farmer died from self-immolation near a military base in Amuquhu town in western China's Gansu province, Free Tibet said.