China has accused a two-time member of the Tibetan exiled Parliament in Dharamsala of authoring a “self-immolation guide” and organising the protests that have spread across Tibetan areas in China since 2011.
Sources in Dharamsala rejected the claims, saying that the “guide” Chinese State media was referring to was, in fact, only a book, published last year that detailed the protests, and did not encourage them.
The official Xinhua news agency said in a report on Friday that a “self- immolation guide” circulating on the Internet was “openly encouraging Tibetans within the Chinese border to carry out self-immolations according to the plan and procedures”.
The report added that the author was a former two-time member of the Tibetan exiled parliament named “Lhamo Je”, now holding “an important position” in the education system of the Tibetan administration in Dharamsala. The guide, Xinhua said, was “reliable evidence” of the involvement of Dharamsala officials in orchestrating the more than 100 protests seen in China since 2011.
The Xinhua report, widely disseminated across Chinese media outlets on Friday, claimed that the four-part guide “advocates the idea that self-immolators are great and honourable fearless heroes”, and “gives detailed instruction on the self-immolation preparation” from choosing important days and “asking a couple of trustworthy people to help record videos and take photos”.
The report appeared to be referring to Lhamo Kyab, a former Tibetan MP who now resides in France.
It was not clear if the Xinhua report was only referring to Mr. Kyab’s website, which carried details of a book published last year by a Tibetan group in India titled “Iron-Hare Year’s Fiery Protest Against Repression”.
The book also contained four parts: the timeline of protests since 2009; the life stories of the protesters; the international community’s support for the movement; and the Tibetan administration in Dharamsala’s efforts to garner global support.
“The book”, said one source in Dharamsala, “has nothing to do with encouraging self-immolations”.
Xinhua could not be reached for a clarification. Its report, however, said the publication was “reliable evidence” of the role of “a senior official of the Dalai clique” in the protests. “Sometimes the Dalai clique was able to hype the burning cases with the photos and personal data of the self-immolators even within dozens of minutes,” the report said.
Continuity in approach
The timing of the Xinhua report — days ahead of the March 5 opening of the Chinese National People’s Congress, or Parliament — suggests the new leadership that will take control of the government following the congress will likely continue with the earlier approach to the protests, which blamed the Dalai Lama for the incidents.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has strongly denied Beijing’s accusations of a “plot” and called on the Chinese government to examine its policies and for a fact-finding mission.
“The Chinese government will win the battle of the anti self-immolations”, the report said, “as long as it does not get illusion toward the Dalai clique, nor expects some Western forces to be kind, but keep the situation under control on the basis of our own works”.
At the Parliament session next week, some indication of the new government’s approach to Tibet is expected, as officials of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai — where self-immolation protests have been reported — hold work meetings and meet with the media.
On Sunday, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — the top advisory body which also holds responsibilities for minority policy — will open its week-long session. The CPPCC will appoint a new Chairman, expected to be Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth-ranked Politburo Standing Committee member who is likely to be in charge of minority policy under the new Xi Jinping administration.