DHARAMSHALA, February 26: A provincial Communist Party chief visited the besieged Kirti monastery and the adjoining restive regions of eastern Tibet that have been at the centre of the fiery wave of self-immolations.
According to a government run local newspaper, Liu Qibao, Communist Party chief of the Sichuan province, which incorporates vast areas of traditional Tibetan land, visited Ngaba and Kardze, warning Tibetan monks and residents to oppose separatism and obey the law.
He was quoted by the Sichuan Daily newspaper as telling monks at the Kirti Monastery to support the leadership of the Communist Party.
"We should resolutely crack down on separatist activities and crimes of all kinds, uphold state unification, ethnic unity and the normal legal order. This upholds the basic interests of the people and upholds their religious freedom,'' Mr Liu was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
"Everyone is equal before the law. No matter whether you are a monk or a nun, you are a citizen first," the paper further quoted him as saying.
"There are no monasteries outside the law, nor are there individuals outside the law."
Mr Liu also reportedly met security forces in the region during his visit.
23 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire in Tibet demanding the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.
Hundreds of monks from the Kitri monastery have been disappeared since the immolations began, while many have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms on charges of “subversion”.
Recently, a reporter for the Guardian who succeeded in breaching the strict security cauldron and entered Ngaba, described it as a town that’s “on edge”.
Meanwhile, Zhu Weiqun, vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party and China’s point man for Tibet, blamed the legal identity and minority quota for the Tibetans as the root causes of unrest in Tibet.
In an article published by the Central Party School "Study Times", Zhu said that the unrest in Tibet could be quelled if the Tibetans were denied a separate legal identity in government documents.
He said that mentioning the ethnicity and minority status on identity cards of Tibetans erodes the sense of nationalism and cohesion.
Zhu asked the two houses of Chinese parliament - the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - "to amend laws concerning Tibetans during their upcoming annual meetings in March."
"Some of our current educational and administrative policies have unintentionally weakened (the minority people's) sense of nationhood and Chinese nationalism," Zhu wrote.
"The best way to achieve 'national cohesion' is by stopping to give them separate status as an ethnic minority on identity cards, using ethnic labels in the titles of schools and autonomous regions, and giving them privileges reserved for minorities," Zhu added.