China cracks down on Tibetan burnings, detains 70

Thu Feb 7, 2013 7:51am EST
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have detained 70 people in a crackdown on self-immolations in ethnic Tibetan regions, state media said on Thursday, the largest single reported sweep of suspects to date as the government tries to stop the unrest.

Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule since 2009 across a large swathe of ethnically Tibetan regions, with most of them dying from their injuries.

In the past few months, the government has begun a new tactic to discourage the protests, detaining and jailing people it deems to have incited the burnings.

The latest detentions took place in the northwestern province of Qinghai, where police detained 70 "criminal suspects", 12 of whom were formally arrested, meaning they will be charged, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"Police will exert more efforts to thoroughly investigate the cases and seriously punish those who incite innocent people to commit self-immolation," it quoted Lu Benqian, Qinghai's deputy police chief, as saying.

China has repeatedly denounced exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetan groups for fomenting the self-immolations.

"The Dalai Lama clique masterminded and incited the self-immolations," Lu said. "Personal information, such as photos of the victims, were sent overseas to promote the self-immolations."

"A few individuals with a strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example," Lu said.

"The self-immolation cases were influenced by the separatism of the Dalai Lama clique, as the Dalai Lama has prayed for self-immolators and Tibetan separatists overseas flaunt them as 'heroes'."   Continued...

 
A Tibetan resident holds a map of Tibet during a Free Tibet demonstration denouncing the Chinese government in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak