Head of Tibetís govít in exile says China responsible for wave of self-immolations by Tibetans
By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, March 10, 11:24 AM
DHARMSALA, India ó The head of Tibetís government in exile has blamed China for a recent wave of self-immolations by Tibetans, saying Saturday that they have been denied the right to hold conventional protests.
Lobsang Sangay said Tibetans were left with no choice but to take extreme action by setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. There have been 14 cases of self-immolations reported in the past 2 1/2 months to protest what Sangay called Chinaís suppression of Tibetansí religion and culture.
Sangayís statement came as Tibetans observed two significant anniversaries Saturday: the unsuccessful 1959 revolt that caused their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to flee Tibet to India, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked Tibetís capital, Lhasa, in 2008.
ďIn actuality, Tibetans are treated as second-class citizens,Ē Sangay said. ďWhen Tibetans gather peacefully and demand basic rights as outlined in the Chinese constitution, they are arrested, fired upon and killed as in the Jan. 23-24 peaceful protests when Chinese were celebrating their new year.Ē
In January, Tibetan areas in Sichuan province saw large demonstrations. Police fired on crowds in three separate areas, leaving several Tibetans dead and injuring dozens, according to Tibet support groups outside China.
China blames the Tibetan leadership in exile for encouraging the self-immolations by Tibetans. Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan province.
However, Sangay said the self-immolations were an emphatic rejection of the empty promises made by Chinese hard-liners.
Twenty-six Tibetans have committed self-immolations since 2009, he said.
He called upon Beijing to accept the Tibetansí middle way policy, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the framework of the Chinese constitution.
ďHong Kong and Macau have been granted high degrees of autonomy,Ē he said in reference to the two Chinese territories. ďDespite resistance from Taiwan, China has offered Taiwan more autonomy. Why are Tibetans still not granted genuine autonomy as stipulated in the Chinese constitution?Ē
Chinaís government says the Dalai Lama seeks to destroy the countryís sovereignty by pushing independence for Tibet.
Sangay expressed his willingness to send envoys to resume dialogue with China after a gap of nearly two years, saying a peaceful resolution to the Tibet issue is in the best interest of China, the Chinese people and Tibetans.
Nine rounds of talks between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lamaís representatives have failed to produce any breakthroughs.
He also said that Tibet has become one of the most militarized areas in the region, with China stationing several army divisions and dispatching thousands of paramilitary forces there.
ďA Chinese scholar recently observed there are more Chinese than Tibetans, more police than monks, more surveillance cameras than windows in Lhasa. The entire region is under undeclared martial law,Ē he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Head of Tibet’s gov’t in exile says China responsible for wave of self-immolations by Tibetans - The Washington Post