China on Tuesday criticised the Dalai Lama and his followers all across the world for not denouncing a string of self-immolations by monks protesting for religious freedom in Tibetan parts of China. China accused them of inciting self-immolations among Tibetans and called it a violation of Buddhist principles.
Seven Tibetans in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have set themselves on fire since March in opposition to excessive religious controls by Beijing. China labels the exiled spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a violent separatist and is forcing people to abandon the Dalai Lama from their daily lives. China has also banned public display of Dalai Lama’s pictures.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, “They publicly played it up, spread rumors and incited more people to follow suit.” Self-immolations were part of a plan to violently overthrow Chinese rule in Tibet, Liu said.
“That runs against human culture and morality but also Buddhist doctrine,” he said.
“We believe adopting such means that harm monks to pursue separatist aims is masked violent terrorist behavior that violates moral norms and Buddhist doctrine, including Tibetan Buddhist teachings,” Liu said.
Five Tibetan men have set themselves on fire in the past two weeks in Aba region. While few details are known, the latest young men to set themselves on fire were Choepel, 19, and Khayang, 18, both Buddhist monks at the Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Aba prefecture.
Aba has been the scene of numerous protests in past years against the Chinese government. Most are led by monks who are fiercely loyal to the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Buddhist leader who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is reviled by Beijing.
China in August jailed three monks for their involvement in the March self-immolation by another monk named Phuntsog, which spurred a crackdown and the month-long detention of about 300 Tibetan monks.
At least three of the seven monks who set themselves on fire are believed to have died.
Monks from the Kirti monastery also participated in protests that hit Tibetan areas of China in March 2008, after demonstrations in Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, were suppressed and gave way to deadly violence aimed at non-Tibetans.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops marched in in 1950. It says that rule has bought much needed development to a poor and backward region.
Tibetans fear that China wants to use Dalai Lama’s religious succession to its benefit and split the movement, with one new Lama named by exiles and one by China after his death.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has routinely condemned violence and advocates a peaceful campaign for greater autonomy for Tibetans in China while remaining under Beijing’s rule.