【 Fox News 】   Post Date: 3/7/2012
Beijing Dismisses Tibetan Self-Immolators as Criminals, Blames Dalai Lama
Author: AP Report
On Wednesday China referred to the protesting Tibetans as "outcasts, criminals and mentally ill people" who are being controlled by the Dalai Lama.  The protests are a source of embarrassment for Chinese officials, but the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has repeatedly discouraged the practice. 
BEIJING –  Chinese officials sought Wednesday 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 Saturday -- 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. He said that before setting themselves on fire, the immolators shouted "independence for Tibet and other slogans that aim to divide the nation."
 
The most recent immolations in Aba occurred just days ago. A 32-year-old mother of four set herself ablaze and died in Aba on Saturday and an 18-year-old identified only as Dorje died after self-immolating on Monday, according to earlier reports from the International Committee for Tibet and U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia.
 
The official Xinhua News Agency confirmed the immolation of another woman Saturday in neighboring Gansu province, but said that the 20-year-old student may have been pushed to suicide because of pressure at school and because of a head injury.
 
Xinhua quoted local officials in Gansu province as saying that Tsering Kyi had been hospitalized after hitting her head on a radiator and suffered fainting spells prior to setting herself on fire.
 
Xinhua said her school grades started to slip, "which put a lot of pressure on her and made her lose her courage for life and study."
 
China has confirmed some but not all of the approximately 25 immolations reported by overseas media and Tibetan rights advocates since last year, and there are competing tallies of immolations and deaths from different groups.
 
Li Changping, a member of the Communist Party committee that governs Sichuan, who recently visited Aba and Sichuan's Ganzi prefecture, where several immolations have also been reported, said that "about 20 or so" people have set themselves on fire in Sichuan in the past two years.
 
Such acts show no signs of abating, even as China ratchets up security and seals off Tibetan areas to outsiders, making it impossible to know what is actually happening inside.
 
China blames supporters of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama for encouraging the self-immolations and anti-government protests that have led to the deaths of an unknown number of Tibetans at the hands of police.
 
The Dalai Lama has praised the courage of those who engage in self-immolation and has attributed the protests to what he calls China's "cultural genocide" in Tibet. But he also says he does not encourage the protests, noting that they could invite an even harsher crackdown.
 
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