US concerned over self-immolations in Tibet
Washington: The US has voiced concern over reports of new wave of self-immolations in Tibet by Buddhist monks, noting that these events reflect the deep frustration among the Tibetans.
"We're seriously concerned by reports that three more Tibetans have self-immolated over the past few days," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"Since March this brings the count to some 15 Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations in China. The US government has consistently and directly raised with the Chinese government this issue of Tibetan self-immolation," she said.
"These actions clearly represent, you know, enormous anger, enormous frustration with regard to the severe restrictions on human rights, including religious freedom, inside China," Nuland said.
"We have called the Chinese government policies counterproductive and have urged the Chinese government to have a productive dialogue, to loosen up in Tibet and allow journalists and diplomats and other observers to report accurately, and to respect the human rights of all of their citizens," the State Department spokesperson said.
In a news article, The Wall Street Journal said an unprecedented wave of self-immolations among Tibetans in Sichuan province represents a new challenge both to Chinese authorities - by drawing attention to dissent in the area - and to the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, who doesn't want to be seen as encouraging such acts.
The self-immolations come as Beijing has launched a nationwide crackdown on religious activity in recent months, and is reminding Communist Party members they aren't allowed to worship, the daily said.
"Religious experts say Buddhism and Christianity in particular have grown in popularity among party officials in recent years, a trend the government fears could one day subvert their faith in the party's supremacy. Most of the self-immolators are young, part of a new generation of Tibetans who revere the Dalai Lama but whose actions conflict with his advocacy of peaceful protests. The Dalai Lama doesn't condone suicide," it said.
In another report, Radio Free Asia said hundreds of angry Tibetans forced Chinese authorities on Sunday to return the body of a monk who self-immolated, parading the corpse in the streets in China's western Qinghai province, witnesses said. Sopa, a respected 42-year-old monk, set himself on fire and died in the town center of Darlag (in Chinese, Dari) county in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after shouting slogans calling for Tibet's freedom and the long life of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, they said.
"These latest self-immolations confirm that what we are currently witnessing in Tibet is a sustained and profound rejection of the Chinese occupation," Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden was quoted as saying.