Man sets himself alight in anti-China protest

Aug. 08, 2008, 10:39 a.m. (ET)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) A man doused himself with gasoline and set himself alight during a protest Friday by ethnic Uighurs outside the Chinese Embassy in Turkey.

Other demonstrators jumped on the man and quickly extinguished the flames with a blanket, said an Associated Press photographer who was at the scene. He was also sprayed with a fire extinguisher.

The man, identified by the local Uighur association as 35-year-old Mehmet Dursun Uygurturkoglu, was rushed to a hospital where he was being treated for second-degree burns to his head, neck and arms. A doctor at Ankara's Numune hospital said his injuries were not life-threatening.

He was among several hundred Uighur demonstrators protesting human rights violations in China just before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The group was chanting anti-China slogans when Uygurturkoglu, his T-shirt doused with gasoline and his back on fire, rushed to the forefront, shouting: "Long live Turkistan!"

Many Uighurs favor independence or greater autonomy for Xinjiang province, which takes up one-sixth of China's land mass and borders eight Central Asian countries. Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a Uighur community.

On Monday, assailants killed 16 border police and wounded 16 others in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar when they rammed a stolen truck into the group before tossing homemade bombs and stabbing them. Chinese authorities called the raid a terrorist attack and said they had arrested two men who are Uighurs.

The sprawling, far-flung western region of Xinjiang has long been a source of trouble for China's communist government. The rugged, mineral-rich territory is populated by the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority that has had tense relations with the Chinese.