At least 29 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in various Tibetan regions of China in the last year—but a man who self-immolated in India on Monday and died today is being seen as the new face of the cause. That's because images of Jamphel Yeshi's flaming body have actually been captured and distributed throughout New Delhi—and been seen around the world. The New York Times reports that Chinese security has squashed most evidence of self-immolations in the Tibetan areas it controls, with little more than a few fuzzy cellphone images emerging. The documentation of Yeshi's act stands in stark contrast.
Yeshi set himself on fire before a crowd of hundreds who had gathered in the capital in protest before today's scheduled visit to the country by President Hu Jinato; he suffered burns on 98% of his body. Grisly images of Yeshi—captured running afire—covered walls throughout town yesterday and made waves in Dharamsala, the Indian town home to the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan exiles. "All the Tibetans have tried so many ways to get attention, and somebody had to take the lead," explained one man. (Read more Tibet stories.)