News / Asia

Reward Posters Part of Beijing's Immolation Crackdown

A notice in Labrang by the Gannan Prefecture Public Security Department, Gansu Province, China. (Citizen journalist/VOA Tibetan)
A notice in Labrang by the Gannan Prefecture Public Security Department, Gansu Province, China. (Citizen journalist/VOA Tibetan)
Posters are going up in parts of China warning ethnic Tibetans against setting themselves on fire in protest and offering money in exchange for information.
 
The posters say police will pay $8,000 to anyone who provides information "on the people who plan, incite to carry out, control and lure people to commit self-immolation." The announcement promises a reward of about $30,000 to anyone who gives creditable information about the region's four most recent self-immolations.
 
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 23, 2012 updateTibet Self-Immolation Map, October 23, 2012 update
x
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 23, 2012 update
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 23, 2012 update
Authorities, the posters indicate, will keep secret the names of any informants and "be responsible for their security."
 
According to a full translation by the International Campaign for Tibet, the notices also decry self-immolation as "an extreme action against human beings, against society" and warns would-be protesters such actions "are ungrateful of how your parents raised you."
 
China has long-accused Tibetan exiles of self-immolating as part of a separatist struggle, denouncing them as terrorists.
 
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei again accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the deadly protests on Wednesday, saying it "is despicable and deserves the people's condemnation."
 
The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile say they oppose all violence. According to Britain's The Guardian, Tibet's "government in exile" has recently issued a formal call to end self-immolations.
 
A recent spate of self-immolations
 
At least three Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese policies in the past five days, and six Tibetans have died in self-immolation protests this month.
 
On Tuesday, an older Tibetan man has set himself ablaze outside the military headquarters in Labrang, not far from the highly respected Labrang Monastery in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. His self-immolation came just one day after a 61-year-old farmer set himself on fire near the same monastery, which, located in China's northwestern Gansu province, was the scene of deadly protests against Chinese rule in 2008.
 
On Sept. 26, Gary Locke, U.S. State Department ambassador to China, visited two monasteries in Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province, which has seen 26 of self-immolations since 2009.
 
At a U.S. State Department briefing Wednesday in Washington, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she was not aware of the reward offer but expressed concern about the escalating tensions.
 
"We have consistently expressed our concern about the violence in the Tibetan areas, about the continuing pattern of self-immolations, heightened tensions in Tibet in general," she said. "We continue to both publicly and privately urge the Chinese government at all levels to address the underlying policies in Tibet that have created these tensions and which threaten the cultural heritage of the region."
 
Robert Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University in New York, says the immolations are worrisome.
 
"It does suggest that boiling point could be reached as all these things come together," he said, adding that it is difficult to determine the significance of the reward money. "If [Chinese officials] are moving to a stage where they think that the exiles are planning [the self-immolations] rather than just encouraging them, that would be a new development."
 
Barnett says there appears to be an element of fear about how the powerfully symbolic protests are spreading.
 
"I think [the pattern of self-immolations] is conceived as dangerous by the authorities," he said. "The fact that this movement is spreading further to the east, closer to the Chinese borders, into these populations where you have educated Tibetans — students, monks — who have a tradition of thinking for themselves, I think they may be concerned about this."
 
But the motivation to find and stop would-be protesters from setting themselves on fire, he cautions, may be genuinely humane. For all the brutality of the Chinese state, he said, officials honestly want to see an end to the tragic and horrifying suicides.
 
Since February of 2009, at least 58 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese policy in Tibet.  In 48 cases, the protesters have died.  And experts like Barnett note that the tone and tactics used by Chinese officials at a national level is not always reflected on the local level, where authorities tend to be more aggressive.
 
Such aggression has become increasingly visible.  Earlier this month, Chinese police in Nagchu town arrested about 30 people, including the uncle, sister and brother in-law of a 43-year-old man who set himself on fire in protest.
 
Activists have also accused Chinese security forces of killing a man to prevent him from setting himself on fire and bringing attention to Tibet's plight.
 
- VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns contributed to this report.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid