Exiled Tibetans hold candle light vigil in Siliguri
Tibetans-in-exile came together on Wednesday for a candlelight vigil in West Bengal's Siliguri city, praying for peace and for the souls of their compatriots who performed self-immolations protesting against the Chinese government.
A long line of Tibetan men and women moved on the streets of Siliguri, chanting prayers as they walked holding lit candles and the Tibetan flag.
General Secretary of the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, Sonam Lama, said that through the vigil, the demonstrators also sought to raise awareness about the issue.
"The objective of this vigil is to pray for peace and for the souls of those who committed self-immolations, and to raise awareness among peace-loving people all over the world," Lama said.
Lama called upon international human rights groups to build pressure on the Chinese government to address the problems fomenting extreme angst among Tibetans.
"We want the world's human rights organizations to support this issue and speak up on it, and pressurize the Chinese government to restore peace in Tibet, so that there are no more self-immolations," he said.
The surge in self-immolations in China in protest over its rule in Tibet has heightened tension in recent months.
The current reported death toll from self-immolation among protesting Tibetans has now reached 86, with 23 alone in the month of November this year.
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.