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China to punish families, entire villages of self-immolators
Phayul[Thursday, November 22, 2012 20:12]
DHARAMSHALA, November 22: Chinese authorities in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) region of eastern Tibet have announced a series of strict measures targeting the ongoing wave of self-immolations with further restrictions, punishments, and threats.

Dharamshala based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in a release today said the five-point notice issued by the Malho Prefectural office and Malho People’s government on November 14 gives stern orders to local officials “to punish self-immolators and their families; even those who had offered condolences and prayers to the bereaved family members and relatives.”

The recent escalation in self-immolations has made an alarming impact in Rebkong region of Malho with nine fiery protests in this month alone. Also, thousands of Tibetans, including school children, carried out massive protests calling for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama earlier this month.

The notice, issued in Tibetan and Chinese languages, announces the cancellation of government aid to families of self-immolators as well as development projects in villages where similar protests have taken place.

“The first point in the notification clearly states that government aid to the family members of a person who had self-immolated will be cut off for three years ... Development funds will be cancelled to those villages where self-immolations took place; even those projects that had been approved earlier will be cancelled within three years,” TCHRD said in its release.

The notice calls for “detailed investigation” into the “failure” of local leaders and relevant Communist Party officials to protect “stability” and “harmony” in areas where self-immolations have taken place. It says that official if found “guilty” will be relieved of their posts and “severe measures” will be taken against them.

The notice goes on to call for “thorough investigation” to determine whether any government officials had visited homes of self-immolators to offer condolences and further warns others from such acts, the offence of which, the notice says, will “attract immediate firing, followed by investigations and punishments.”

While asking higher authorities to “advise and guide” these officials, the notice states that the Public Security Bureau officers will “strike hard” on those who do not listen to such guidance.

“If a village or a monastery has collectively organized prayer ceremonies and visits to the families of self-immolator, then the whole village will get no government aid. All development projects approved earlier in the village will be cancelled within three years,” TCHRD quoted the notice as saying.

The notice warns that if high lamas or abbots or senior staff at monasteries are found of having organised prayer ceremonies for self-immolators, then their monasteries will be closed down and steps will be taken to purge these monasteries of causing "instability."

It must be be noted that on several occasions, self-immolators have chosen to set themselves ablaze near their local monasteries, following which, their bodies have been in many cases carried inside the monastery premises to perform prayers and rituals.

“Heavy punishment shall be given to those who attempt to organise themselves or form associations or groups,” the notice states.

The notice further blames the “Dalai clique” for the instability in the region.

The exile Tibetan administration has maintained that the reasons for the self-immolations are self-evident: political repression, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation.

“The blame and solution for the present tragedy in Tibet lies entirely with Beijing,” Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, said earlier this month. “We firmly believe that an end to repression will effectively end the cycle self-immolation.”
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