China will charge anyone caught aiding or inciting Tibetan self-immolations with murder, state press said Wednesday, after more than 90 Tibetans set themselves alight in protest at Beijing's rule.
A joint legal opinion issued by China's supreme court, top prosecution body and police said the charge of "intentional murder" should apply to anyone urging Tibetans to set themselves alight, the state-run Gannan Daily reported.
Beijing regularly accuses the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, of inciting the burnings. He said last month that Beijing was more interested in criticising him than finding the reasons for the self-immolations.
The ruling comes alongside an already intense security crackdown in Tibetan-inhabited regions and could implicate Tibetan monks, family members of anti-China protesters, or sympathisers.
More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009 in protest at China's rule of the Tibetan plateau, with the incidents becoming more frequent this year and nearly 30 happening in November.
"The recent self immolations in Tibean areas are mutually linked to hostile forces in and out of China, they are plotted, organised and incited by separatist nations and are seriously odious incidents aimed at destroying ethnic unity (and) fomenting social disorder," the paper said.
"The legal opinion clearly points out that those criminals behind the scenes who plan, incite, aide, abet... and help those perpetrating self immolations will be investigated for criminal liability in the crime of intentional murder."
The Gannan Daily is the local government-run paper in Gannan prefecture, part of northwest China's Gansu province, where many of the November burnings took place.
Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of repressing their religious freedom and eroding their culture, as the country's majority Han Chinese ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.
China insists that Tibetans are enjoying rising living standards and religious freedom in accordance with the law.
In Tokyo last month, the Dalai Lama said: "The Chinese government should investigate the cause. China does not look into it seriously and tries to end (the incidents) only by criticising me," according to a Kyodo News report in Japanese.
Last week, advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet said in London that a security crackdown aimed at ending the self-immolations was fuelling the protests.
The story of 27-year-old Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan who burned himself in protest against Chinese policies in March 2012.
In the past two years, more than 80 (90) Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese policies in their homeland. One of them was a 27-year-old man named Jamphel Yeshi, who set himself aflame on March 26. This is his story.
At the time he decided to set fire to himself, Jamphel Yeshi was living in the Tibetan refugee colony of Majnu ka Tilla, on the northern outskirts of Delhi. The colony was first settled in 1963, four years after the Dalai Lama escaped to India from advancing Chinese forces. The early residents built thatched huts and made a living brewing and selling chang, a traditional Tibetan barley-and-wheat alcohol. As refugees from the roof of the world, they were unaccustomed to the heat and humidity of the low-lying plain. They had no idea how long they'd be staying but imagined they'd return home soon.
Today, about 4,000 people live in the colony, which has been overtaken by the city: A busy thoroughfare runs alongside it, and Indian neighborhoods have grown up nearby. New construction in the colony is illegal, yet ragged workers continue to dig foundations, carrying rubble and dirt in handwoven baskets balanced on their heads and dumping their contents on the nearby banks of the Yamuna River. They navigate a warren of multistory buildings, a shambolic jumble of several hundred homes with colored prayer flags fluttering from the rooftops. The alleyways, many just wide enough for two pedestrians to pass, are populated by crimson-robed monks and nuns, mangy dogs and barefoot kids, activists and drifters, petty merchants, and beggars with missing or mangled limbs who offer a broad smile and warm thanks for receiving the equivalent of 20 cents. A Tibetan far from home can enjoy familiar scents and tastes here: salty butter tea, steamed dumplings, Tibetan bread and biscuits. (Learn about Tibetan traditions under Chinese Rule.)
Jamphel Yeshi—Jashi to his friends—lived with four other Tibetan men in a one-room, windowless apartment they rented for the equivalent of $90 a month. The entrance to the room is through a tiny kitchen area, which is separated from the sleeping quarters by a threadbare curtain in a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck motif. Jashi's mattress still lies on the floor in a corner, below posters of the Dalai Lama and other senior lamas. His mattress and four others form a U-shape around the perimeter of the room, which is illuminated by three fluorescent tubes. A thin cabinet still holds many of Jashi's books, including several well-thumbed collections on Buddhism, Tibetan politics, and history. During the day, the men would store their personal belongings in two tiny alcoves. Jashi's small nylon suitcase remains where it was when he was alive, holding most of what he owned, including three ID cards, two plastic pens, two rosaries, four cotton sweaters, four pairs of pants, a vest, a scarf, a green and a red string, and a small Tibetan flag. (Related: "Buddha Rising, Buddhism in the West.")
On the night before he set himself on fire, Jashi was in a cheerful mood. Two friends were visiting from the town of Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government in exile, about 300 miles from Majnu ka Tilla. It was Lobsang Jinpa's turn to cook that evening, but he had become distracted at a cybercafé. Jashi called Jinpa on his mobile phone and ribbed him: "Have you forgotten that you have to make dinner? You've become very popular in Dharamsala; maybe you're too big too cook for us now!" Jinpa rushed back; by the time he arrived Jashi had already washed and cut the vegetables. (Learn about the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.)
Jinpa cooked thenthuk, a traditional Tibetan dish of noodles, vegetables, and mutton. "No one said it was tasty, but everyone ate it," recalls Jinpa, a former political prisoner who escaped Tibet in 2011. "Jashi ate very well." The seven young men who gathered that evening talked about the upcoming visit by Chinese premier Hu Jintao and about a protest that was to take place the following day in downtown Delhi against Chinese rule. At one point, Jashi took off his shirt and flexed his muscles, showing off the dragon tattoos on his arms and joking about his physique.
As he often did, Jashi woke early the next morning, before any of his roommates. He first went to the Buddhist temple in Majnu ka Tilla to help serve tea to people attending prayers. Then he returned to the room, where he picked up a small backpack and a large Tibetan flag. He neatly folded his blanket and propped a book by the Dalai Lama and another on Tibetan history on top, so the arrangement resembled an altar. He roused his cousin, Tsering Lobgyal, to tell him he was leaving his mobile phone at home to recharge. If anyone called, Lobgyal should answer it. Then he went to board one of five buses taking protestors to the rally.
As Jashi passed again through the temple square, a friend asked why he was dressed in long sleeves and carrying a pack—it was too hot for that. Another joked about the large flag billowing off his back. "Superman!" the friend yelled as Jashi trotted past. Boarding the bus, Jashi met yet another friend and neighbor, Kelsang Dolma, who was going to the rally with her two-year-old son. Everyone had been talking about an unprecedented series of self-immolations in Tibet since March 2011 and wondering if Tibetans might set fire to themselves at the Delhi protest. Dolma patted the pack on Jashi's back and joked, "Is this your petrol? Don't set it on fire!" (Photos: After Fiery Protest, a Tibetan Exile is Honored.)
Individual Tibetans currently setting themselves alight almost every day
29-year-old Lobsang Gedun has died in the most recent self-immolation protest to be confirmed by Free Tibet.
A monk at the Penak monastery, he made his fatal protest at a busy intersection in Serathang township in Quinghai province on the evening of 3rd December.
Despite attempts by Chinese security forces to take him away, members of the local community were able to return his body to the monastery.
The situation in the town is described by local witnesses as “tense”.
Chinese authorities have a policy of taking retaliatory action against communities in which self-immolation protests have taken place, including making strenuous efforts to stop members of the community visiting to offer condolences. Lobsang Gedun belonged to a family of eleven.
More than 25 self-immolation protests took place in November, and Free Tibet have already confirmed two in the first three days of December.
Tibetans are also resisting China's forces of oppression through mass and individual demonstrations, and a number of influential people have recently fasted in solidarity with those who have chosen to burn themselves to death.
Protesters seek freedom for Tibet and an end to Chinese rule, which has been characterised by human rights abuses, including shooting protesters, disappearances, forcing monks and nuns to renounce some of their religious beliefs, and torture - which has been described by the United Nations as "widespread" and "routine".
In confirmed reports coming out of Tibet, yet another Tibetan set himself on fire today in Golog region of eastern Tibet in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
DHARAMSHALA, December 3: In confirmed reports coming out of Tibet, yet another Tibetan set himself on fire today in Golog region of eastern Tibet in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
Lobsang Gendun, a 29-year-old Tibetan monk self-immolated in Golog Pema Dzong at around 7:45 pm (local time). He succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.
Tsangyang Gyatso, an exiled Tibetan told Phayul that Lobsang Gendun was a monk at the Penag Kadak Troedreling Monastery in Seley Thang region of Golog Pema Dzong.
“According to eyewitnesses, Lobsang Gendun had his hands clasped in prayers as he raised slogans while engulfed in flames,” Tsangyang said. “He walked a few steps towards a busy road intersection and then fell to the ground.”
Following the self-immolation protest, a minor scuffle broke out between local Tibetans and Chinese security personnel, who tried to confiscate Lobsang Gendun’s body.
“Chinese security personnel arrived at the site of the protest and began to forcibly remove Lobsang Gyatso’s body,” the same source said. “But local Tibetans rushed in and rescued his charred body from falling into the hands of the Chinese authorities.”
They later carried Lobsang Gyatso’s body to his monastery, where it is believed to be currently kept.
Security has been heightened in the region following today’s fiery protest.
Lobsang Gendun is survived by his parents, Golog Lokho and Sago Dewang, and his 11 siblings.
The global rights group, Human Rights Watch last week said the unprecedented increase in the number of self-immolation cases in Tibet highlights the “failure of Chinese authorities to address Tibetan grievances” and blamed China’s “increasingly pervasive and punitive security measures” for having “exacerbated the situation” in Tibet.
HRW renewed its calls for the formation of a contact group on Tibet while noting that “coordinated, international expressions of concern are essential to get Beijing to substantively address the issues being raised by Tibetans.”
An alarming total of 92 Tibetans have self-immolated inside Tibet since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
Another Tibetan burned himself to death in protest against Chinese rule on Friday, bringing the self-immolation toll to 90 so far with 28 occurring this month alone, triggering calls for multilateral action to pressure Beijing to ease the clampdown in Tibet.
The latest burning protest was by a 29-year-old Tibetan man and occurred in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province.
Kunchok Kyap, who "doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire in protest against Chinese policies" was immediately whisked away by Chinese security forces, said India-based exile monk Kanyag Tsering.
"Not long after the self-immolation, the police arrived and took him away to Barkham (Ma'erkang) county. There is no information about his present condition. "
A native of the Upper Zaru nomadic area in Akyi township in Dzoege (Ruo'ergai) county, Kunchok Kyap self-immolated at a gas station located near Shakdom township in Ngaba.
Several Tibetan youths pursued the vehicle which took Kunchok Kyap away but they too have been missing, Kanyag Tsering said.
"The area is reported to be very tense and volatile," he said.
Chinese authorities have beefed up security and clamped down on the Internet and other communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred, sources said.
Most of the self-immolation protests since February 2009 have been aimed at highlighting opposition to Chinese rule and seeking the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet after a failed national revolt against Chinese occupation in 1959.
The rise in the burning protests in recent weeks highlights the failure of Chinese authorities to address Tibetan grievances and required urgent international action, human rights and other groups have said.
Attempted self-immolation in Indian capital at the onset of mass protest rally
Over 400 Tibetans from all over Delhi and from all walks of life gathered at Rajghat (memorial to Mahatma Gandhi) earlier today to take part in the mass protest rally to show solidarity with Tibetan self-immolators and to appeal for immediate international intervention.
Just before the rally started, Tsultrim Dorjee, a Delhi University student and former RTYC Rohini executive member was seen dousing petrol over his body by nearby Tibetans who intervened and prevented him from self-immolating. He was then detained by police and released short time ago.
Several hundred Tibetans filled the busy streets of New Delhi with Tibetan National Flags, banners and placards and resounding slogans “Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and Independence for Tibet”. After walking for over an hour, the protestors reached Jantar Mantar and the chants grew louder and reverberated through the walls of the three-layer barbed wire Chinese Embassy.
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