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Shocking video of Tibetan nun's self-immolation 'smuggled out of China'

Tibetan rights groups say the footage shows the death of Palden Choetso, who set herself on fire earlier this month.

Image: phayultv via YouTube

A TIBETAN RIGHTS group has released graphic video of what it says is a Buddhist nun engulfed in flames on a city street in one of several apparent self-immolation protests against Chinese rule.

The video, released Monday by Students for a Free Tibet, purports to show Palden Choetso, whose death on November 3 in predominantly Tibetan Ganzi prefecture in Sichuan province had previously been reported.

The video shows a woman in nun’s robes standing on a street corner covered in bright red flames. She collapses to the ground after about 15 seconds.

According to Tibetan news website Phayul.com, onlookers can be heard offering prayers to the Dalai Lama, before a woman walks towards the burning body and throws a white scarf.

Additional footage shows about 10,000 mourners gathering at a monastery for a candlelight vigil on November 6 to pay their respects to the 35-year-old nun while about 1,000 monks and nuns hold prayers inside.

The video also shows Chinese security forces in riot gear shadowing monks and nuns taking part in a protest march, and a column of armoured paramilitary police patrol vehicles travelling down a country road. The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said it obtained the video from sources in the region.

China restricts journalists’ access to Tibetan areas of western China and to Tibet itself, and it is nearly impossible to verify statements about conditions there.

Those who filmed the incidents and then smuggled out the footage must have gone to great lengths and undertaken huge risks, said Tenzin Dorjee, Students for a Free Tibet’s executive director.

At least 11 monks, nuns and former monks have self-immolated this year in what are seen as acts of desperation in the face of tightening controls over Tibetan life and Buddhist culture.

China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries.

Here is the video uploaded by phayultv. (Warning: extremely graphic content. Viewer discretion is highly advised.)

- Additional reporting from the AP

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Michael Freeman

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