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[27 March 2012] A Tibetan living in exile self-immolated in Delhi yesterday. Jamphel Yeshi set fire to himself during a demonstation protesting against  Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India later this week. Jamphel was taken to hospital having suffered serious burns.
[UPDATE 28 MARCH: Jamphel died in hospital on 28 March, succumbing to the severe burns he suffered during his protest. BBC report]

Hundreds of Tibetans had gathered at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against the forthcoming arrival of Hu Jintao to India. Shortly after the protest began Jamphel came running out of a compound with his clothes already on fire. As he ran down the street he was heard to be shouting various protest slogans.

Once bystanders doused the flames, Jamphel was taken to a local hospital by the police. He suffered over 95% burns to his body and his current condition has been described as critical.

This incident is indicative of the strength of feeling and solidarity Tibetans in exile hold for their families and friends inside Tibet who are enduring severe repression by the Chinese government. It also reflects Tibetan resistance inside Tibet, where there have been 30 cases of self-immolation since 2009, of which 17 have occurred this year.

In a statement following the incident, Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, "Until China, through their own will or through pressure from world governments, begins to address the underlying grievances held by Tibetans, such drastic acts will not stop. After 60 years of occupation, Tibetans are clearly signposting they have had enough." (See Huffington Post article - note: includes some disturbing images.)

The Tibetan government in exile (also known as the Central Tibetan Administration or CTA) expressed its concern over the self-immolation in Delhi, and in a press release called on Tibetans "to refrain from drastic actions". In a separate press release the exiled government rejected Chinese government claims that the Dalai Lama is encouraging the self-immolations and said despite appeals to end such actions "Tibetans continue to self-immolate because of Chinas continued occupation and harsh measures against Tibetans."

Jamphel Yeshi, 27, was born in the Tawu region of Kham in eastern Tibet. He escaped into exile in 2006 and spent three years at the Tibetan Transit School in Dharamsala. He now lives in Delhi and is described by colleagues as a dedicated Tibet activist.

Following the self-immolation, the Delhi demonstrators began their planned march to the Chinese Embassy. However they were stopped by the Indian police, and many arrests were made. It is believed several hundred Tibetans were detained and may be held until the conclusion of the Chinese President's visit.

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Further reading:
26 March: Tibetan Protester Sets Fire To Himself In India (Huffington Post) Note: includes some disturbing images
26 March: Hundreds jailed, many severely beaten in mass arrests (Phayul)
26 March: At Least Seven Reasons Why Beijing is Responsible for the Self-Immolations in Tibet (CTA)
27 March: CTA Expresses Concern Over Self-Immolation Incidents (CTA)
27 March: With 98 per cent burns Jamphel Yeshi in critical condition (Phayul)
28 March: Tibetan self-immolation activist in India dies (BBC)

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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