China calls Tibetan immolators criminals, outcasts

Discussion in 'China' started by JAYRAM, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    Published March 07, 2012

    | Associated Press

    BEIJING – Chinese officials sought Wednesday to discredit Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest China's rule over their region, calling them outcasts, criminals and mentally ill people manipulated by the exiled Dalai Lama.

    The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has said he does not encourage the self-immolations.

    However, Chinese officials have sought to portray the past year's wave of about two dozen immolations -- including three since Saturday -- as the result of outside orchestration rather than what activists say is local unrest over the government's suppression of Tibetan religion and culture.

    Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan province.

    "Some of the suicides are committed by clerics returning to lay life, and they all have criminal records or suspicious activities. They have a very bad reputation in society," said Wu Zegang, an ethnic Tibetan who is the government's top administrator in Aba.

    Wu told reporters in Beijing that the self-immolations were "orchestrated and supported" by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence forces. He said that before setting themselves on fire, the immolators shouted "independence for Tibet and other slogans that aim to divide the nation."

    The most recent immolations in Aba occurred just days ago. A 32-year-old mother of four set herself ablaze and died in Aba on Saturday and an 18-year-old identified only as Dorje died after self-immolating on Monday, according to earlier reports from the International Committee for Tibet and U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia.

    The official Xinhua News Agency confirmed the immolation of another woman Saturday in neighboring Gansu province, but said that the 20-year-old student may have been pushed to suicide because of pressure at school and because of a head injury.

    Xinhua quoted local officials in Gansu province as saying that Tsering Kyi had been hospitalized after hitting her head on a radiator and suffered fainting spells prior to setting herself on fire.

    Xinhua said her school grades started to slip, "which put a lot of pressure on her and made her lose her courage for life and study."

    China has confirmed some but not all of the approximately 25 immolations reported by overseas media and Tibetan rights advocates since last year, and there are competing tallies of immolations and deaths from different groups.

    Li Changping, a member of the Communist Party committee that governs Sichuan, who recently visited Aba and Sichuan's Ganzi prefecture, where several immolations have also been reported, said that "about 20 or so" people have set themselves on fire in Sichuan in the past two years.

    Such acts show no signs of abating, even as China ratchets up security and seals off Tibetan areas to outsiders, making it impossible to know what is actually happening inside.

    China blames supporters of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama for encouraging the self-immolations and anti-government protests that have led to the deaths of an unknown number of Tibetans at the hands of police.

    The Dalai Lama has praised the courage of those who engage in self-immolation and has attributed the protests to what he calls China's "cultural genocide" in Tibet. But he also says he does not encourage the protests, noting that they could invite an even harsher crackdown.

    Authorities have reportedly detained and forced into re-education classes hundreds of Tibetans who went to India to receive religious instruction from the Dalai Lama, whom is accused by China of campaigning to split Tibet from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking only increased autonomy for Tibet.

    China says it treats minority groups such as Tibetans fairly, and pours tens of billions of dollars into improving living conditions in their areas.

    This is a sensitive time for Tibet, and for all of China. China's annual legislative session, a time when security is tightened across the country, began Monday. March is also when Tibetans mark significant anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful 1959 revolt that caused the Dalai Lama to flee, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 2008.

    Leaders from Xinjiang also struck a hard line on the violent separatism that periodically hits the Central Asian border region. They said stability was a precondition for Xinjiang's No. 1 goal -- development -- and vowed to smash what regional Communist Party secretary Zhang Chunxian called "rotten eggs and bad elements."

    "When an event occurs, we resolutely smash it. When an incident occurs, we also smash it," Zhang told reporters after the Xinjiang delegation met to discuss how the government's latest policies will raise employment and improve the region's economy.

    China Calls Tibetan Immolators Criminals, Outcasts | Fox News
     
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  3. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    China Downplays Impact of Tibetan Self-Immolations

    William Ide

    As a wave of self-immolations continues in Tibetan areas of China, Chinese authorities not only are tightening security, but also are stepping up efforts to discredit those who have set themselves on fire to protest China's policies in the region.

    Chinese authorities held press conferences Wednesday on the sidelines of a major political gathering in Beijing to emphasize the government’s point of view and its argument that overseas groups and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are orchestrating the unrest.

    Chinese officials held two briefings on the sidelines of the annual National People's Congress about the situation.

    Growing wave of protests

    At least 25 nuns, monks and other people have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas since last March, and the wave of protests shows few signs of abating.

    On Monday, an 18-year old identified as Dorjee set himself ablaze and walked from a bridge to a Chinese office building in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture. Before succumbing to the flames, he shouted slogans against the Chinese government. Two others have set themselves on fire since last Saturday.

    China has said little about the link to government policies in Tibetan areas, which activists say is a key motivator behind the protests.

    On Wednesday, Wu Zegang, an ethnic-Tibetan and head of Aba prefecture - where most of the recent self-immolations have taken place - blamed separatists for the unrest.

    Wu said that most of the people who are carrying out acts of self-immolation shout out separatist slogans such as "Independence for Tibet" or aim to divide China.

    He also said that many of those who have committed suicide have criminal records and are outcasts.

    Isolating a region

    Although some foreign media organizations have managed to send out video from Tibetan areas, showing increased security, the region is mostly off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of self-immolations or better understand why they are happening.

    On Wednesday, China's state media confirmed the death of Tsering Kyi late last week, saying her decision to set herself on fire might have been the result of a head injury she allegedly sustained in school. Tibetan activists disagree.

    "We know that a few days before she self-immolated, she had actually been at her family home, which is a few hours away from where she attended school. And she had been with her family, and her family described her as being very well and happy. She had been talking to friends and family in the local area. No one had expressed any concern about her well being," said Stephanie Brigden, with the London-based organization Free Tibet.

    Brigden said local Chinese leaders are under immense pressure to maintain order ahead of an expected political succession in China later this year, and that the situation in Tibet is raising domestic and international concerns.

    "These statements, including Wu Zegang's statement, are really part of China's propaganda to deflect internal, as well as the external, criticism that they are now facing in the face of increased numbers of self-immolations," said Brigden.

    Chinese authorities used Wednesday's press conferences to highlight the funds and efforts they have put into developing Tibetan areas and to assure reporters that the region is largely stable. But analysts and Tibetan activists caution that the situation could quickly spiral out of control.

    China Downplays Impact of Tibetan Self-Immolations | Asia | English
     

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