TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The Chinese Government’s officials have launched a blistering attack on the Dalai Lama and his allies, accusing them of orchestrating the wave of self-immolation suicides in the west of the country.
Speaking at the National People’s Congress, a leader from Sichuan Province also blamed the foreign media for drawing attention to the pro-Tibet protests.
Earlier this week, China sentenced three Tibetan monks to between 10 and 15 years in jail for supposedly inciting self-immolation protests.
China correspondent Stephen McDonell was at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing today, and a warning: this story contains disturbing images.
STEPHEN MCDONELL, REPORTER: The vast ethnic Tibetan regions in Western China are thousands of kilometres from Beijing.
Many Tibetans there want independence and over the past two years more than 100 have set themselves on fire to try and achieve it. They’re mostly monks and the largest group come from Sichuan Province. So when the Sichuan delegation to the National People’s Congress met, the ABC asked them why it is that in recent months the self-immolations have continued.
ZHANG DONGSHENG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, SICHUAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS (voiceover translation): You ask why these things keep happening, well it’s linked to our long and fierce battle with the Dalai Lama clique.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: These powerful Communist Party officials were impressed by the rousing attack on the Dalai Lama from their colleague.
ZHANG DONGSHENG (voiceover translation): Self-immolation is neither advocated nor permitted by Tibetan Buddhist teaching. Self-immolation is a sin. So I wonder how they learnt to do it. The Dalai clique taught them, for sure.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: With Tibetans still killing themselves in protest at Chinese government rule, this issue remains a constant source of embarrassment for the administration here. But the line it’s worked out is that this is all the fault of outsiders – the Dalai Lama, his government in exile and now also foreign journalists.
ZHANG DONGSHENG (voiceover translation): When these things have happened, they’ve been hyped up by the foreign media and are used by enemy forces overseas to attack our party and our government.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: There’s clearly no sign that Beijing is open to dialogue on this issue. Instead, the government has responded with a massive security crackdown in western regions.
Stephen McDonell, Lateline.
Source: ABC (Australia)