BEIJING - A total of seven Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the past week in protest against what they claim is heavy-handed Chinese rule in the Himalayan region, a human rights group said in a statement issued late on Saturday.
Last week saw the highest number of self-immolations since the latest wave of anti-China demonstrations began in 2011, the group said. Since March last year, nearly 60 people have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing. At least half of them have died.
China has branded the self-immolators "terrorists" and criminals, and has blamed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, for inciting them.
Beijing brands the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, but he denies supporting violence and says he merely seeks greater autonomy for his homeland, which he claims is a victim of Chinese "cultural genocide."