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Self immolation could soon be a crime in Tibet

Over 125 Tibetans, including several monks, committed self immolation in the last few years demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

By: PTI | Beijing | Updated: August 24, 2016 6:19 pm

China plans to include self immolation protests in Tibet in separatism-related crimes, officials said even as they refuted reports that monks are being forced to learn legal texts that highlight such offences.

“Self-immolation is likely to be included in the book (compiled by judicial authorities) since it endangers public security and violates the law,” state-run Global Times quoted Qiu Ning, the former head of Aba county’s united front work department as saying.

Inclusion of self-immolation in the book will make the protests a separatism-related crime. “Cases involving illegally sending separatism-themed pictures and videos to foreign hostile forces via mobile messaging app WeChat are also a possible topic for the book,” Qiu said.

Over 125 Tibetans, including several monks, committed self immolation in the last few years demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. Officials in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province also refuted reports, forcing Buddhist monks to learn legal texts highlighting separatism-related crimes.

Zeli Danzhu, head of the justice bureau in the prefecture’s Aba county, and Tashi, the deputy head of the county’s publicity department, told Global Times that “the judicial authorities were working on compiling Yi’an shuofa (case-based law learning) in July”.

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“But it is unclear if the books have been issued to locals,” Qiu Ning, the former head of Aba county’s united front work department told the daily. According to a report by US-based Chinese-language news website, officials in the prefecture handed out Tibetan and Chinese books outlining law-violating cases at Kirti Gompa, or Gerdeng Monastery, beginning in late July.

Kirti Gompa is the site of the most self-immolation incidents on record, incidents that have been proven to have close links with the Dalai Lama’s faction, according to China’s official white paper on Tibet. Chinese public security organs’ investigating claim that the self-immolation incidents clearly showed that they are being manipulated and instigated by the highest level of the Dalai Lama group.

Qiu denied that the book’s target readers are only monks and nuns, though the book was also distributed to some 40 other monasteries in the county. Both Qiu and Tashi also dismissed claim that authorities “forced monks to study the book”.

According to the white paper, the Dalai Lama group instigates self-immolations in part through a so-called press liaison group based in Sichuan’s Kirti Gompa and the Kirti Monastery in India and by using the Internet and “Tibetan independence” media to hype up self-immolation, the Global Times report said.

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