Tibetan protests against Chinese rule in new phase
BEIJING (AP) - Two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire in western China this month in a dramatic acceleration of the protests against authoritarian Chinese rule, activist groups say.
The surge in self-immolations, along with an increase in large demonstrations, marks a new phase in the Tibetan protests.
At least 86 people have set themselves on fire since the immolations began in 2009. In a change in recent months, most self-immolators now are lay people - some of them acting together - rather than Buddhist monks and nuns who live in tightly monitored monasteries and thus can be more closely watched by authorities.
The protests have also sought to avoid direct attacks on authorities and government property, acts which in the past were used to label them as riots or terrorism, providing an excuse for greater oppression. Despite the altered approach, observers see little short-term possibility of Beijing changing its repressive policies.