Self-immolations instigated by separatist clique

Updated: 2012-03-31 08:07

By Hua Zi (China Daily)

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Only religious extremists and Tibetan separatists can feel anything but heartfelt sorrow at the casualties caused by certain Tibetan monks and nuns committing self-immolation.

At a news conference after the closing of the annual session of the National People's Congress in mid-March, Premier Wen Jiabao said the central government is saddened by the horrific manner in which young Tibetan religious followers are being encouraged by overseas agitators to take their lives.

"We disapprove of the use of such an extreme way to interrupt and sabotage social harmony and we feel deeply grieved by their behavior," he said.

While local people in the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan province, Southwest China, have been grieved by such loss of life, some overseas separatist forces and Western media have been overjoyed by these suicides, rushing to publish on-the-scene self-immolation photos and the compensation available to the families of anyone who dies or is injured in such acts.

The Dalai Lama, who likes to portray himself as an advocate of "non-violence" and Tibet's "spiritual leader", has failed to appeal for an end to such acts and some of his clique have hailed those who set themselves alight as "heroes".

The so-called chief kalon of the self-proclaimed "central Tibetan administration" in Dharamshala, India, knows more about the United States than about China, but he has claimed the acts are protests at the central government's "blank promises" to develop the vast plateau, which was yoked under serfdom for centuries, into a socialist paradise and preserve Tibetan ethnic character and customs. He linked such self-immolations to the exiled elite's customary accusations of ethnic repression, religious persecution and cultural genocide, which they habitually use to promote their separatist agenda.

The truth is to accelerate the development of the Tibet autonomous region and Tibetan-inhabited areas in neighboring provinces and improve the living conditions of the local people, the central government has implemented and continues to implement positive measures to boost development. Dominated in recent history by the Dalai Lama and his clique until the 1950s, Tibet remains one of the country's most underdeveloped regions.

And in addition to its efforts to promote local economic development and preserve the environment and ecology, the central government has also paid full respect to religious freedom and provided funds to renovate local old monasteries and include monks and nuns into the country's social security and healthcare network.

But to create the illusion of religious persecution in the Tibetan-inhabited areas, some separatist Tibetan forces have persuaded certain impressionable young people to sacrifice their lives in an attempt to discredit the central government's long-established ethnic and religious policies in Tibet and negate the enormous progress made in the region. In so doing, they seek to internationalize so-called "Tibetan independence".

The reality is different. For example, in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, which has witnessed such self-immolations, there are 42 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries with 5,226 registered monks and nuns who enjoy full freedom in their religious activities.

The self-immolations have also caused grave concerns in Tibetan Buddhist circles; if not stopped they not only cost lives but also threaten social stability as they subvert the tenets of Buddhism.

Yet those of the Dalai Lama's separatist clique continue to instigate such extremist acts and to orchestrate violent riots in Tibetan-populated areas under the pretext of preserving Tibetan traditional culture and maintaining the freedom of Tibetan Buddhism. Such activities pervert the ideals of Tibetan Buddhism and threaten social progress as well as the religion.

Whatever they say and do does not alter the fact that the Tibetan people want peaceful coexistence with the rest of the country and share the common aspiration for harmony and common development.

The author is editor-in-chief of the China Tibetology Publishing House.

(China Daily 03/31/2012 page5)