‘Tibet’s self immolators mentally ill’
BEIJING - The Associated Press
Chinese officials blame exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama (L) for the self immolations of Tibetian monks and call them outcasts, criminals and mentally ill people. AP photoChinese officials sought yesterday to discredit Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest China’s rule over their region, calling them outcasts, criminals and mentally ill people manipulated by the exiled Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has said he does not encourage the self-immolations. However, Chinese officials have sought to portray the past year’s wave of about two dozen immolations, including three since March 3, as the result of outside orchestration rather than what activists say is local unrest over the government’s suppression of Tibetan religion and culture. Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan province.
“Some of the suicides are committed by clerics returning to lay life, and they all have criminal records or suspicious activities. They have a very bad reputation in society,” said Wu Zegang, an ethnic Tibetan who is the government’s top administrator in Aba. Wu told reporters in Beijing that the self-immolations were “orchestrated and supported” by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence forces.
Padma Choling, Tibet’s governor, said he didn’t think anyone should set themselves on fire. “No matter who self-immolates, it is an unhuman and immoral act,” Choling said. “If the Dalai immolates himself, that’s his business, I do not advocate it. Life is precious.”