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 and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.