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70 detained as China cracks down on Tibet protests

BEIJING — A Chinese court sentenced a Tibetan man to 13 years in prison on Friday for encouraging a monk to set himself afire, as Beijing stepped up a crackdown on self-immolations aimed at protesting communist rule.

The sentence by a court in the northwestern province of Qinghai followed a news report that China’s government has detained 70 people in the province’s Tibetan areas.

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The sentence and detentions come as Beijing steps up efforts to blame the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for protests in which nearly 100 Tibetan monks, nuns, and lay people have set themselves on fire since 2009.

The protesters are calling for Beijing to allow greater religious freedom and the return from exile of the Dalai Lama, who lives in India. Communist troops occupied the Himalayan region in 1951. The Dalai Lama fled the region in 1959 as Chinese troops crushed protests against communist rule.

The Chinese government’s Xinhua News Agency said Phagpa, 27, was sentenced Friday after being convicted of murder and inciting a split of the state. He encouraged a monk to burn himself last November, but the monk did not carry out the act after a family member discovered the plan and dissuaded him, Xinhua said.

Phagpa, who like many other Tibetans uses just one name, had called self-immolators heroes because they sacrifice their lives for Tibetan independence and freedom, Xinhua said.

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