A screen grab of Tibetan nun Palden Choetso's self-immolation protest on November 3, 2012 in Tawu, eastern Tibet.
DHARAMSHALA, February 7: A major US based broadcaster, which has a widely followed Tibetan language section, has denied Chinese allegations of their involvement in encouraging Tibetan protesters to set themselves on fire. Voice of America
Director David Ensor in a release Wednesday said the allegations were “totally false,” while noting that the self-immolations are “tragic and a sign of distress in Tibet.” He further called on China Daily
to “retract their stories.”
The allegations were made in a 25-minute documentary on the wave of self-immolations, broadcast on China Central Television
on Wednesday. According to state news agency, Xinhua
, the documentary centres on overseas "Tibet independence" forces and was created through “in-depth research and interviews.”
Ensor said VOA
reports on the self-immolation protests but doesn’t “encourage them.”
He added that the CCTV program accused VOA of using secret code to send messages to people inside Tibet at the direction of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama - a charge he called “absurd.” VOA’s
Tibetan Service chief, Losang Gyatso, also denied that any news reports were influenced by the Dalai Lama or the Dharamshala based exile Tibetan administration.
Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet recently intensified a massive drive
to confiscate satellite dishes as part of the government’s wider clampdown on communications to stifle information on the self-immolations against Chinese rule.
The satellite equipments used by Tibetans to receive foreign radio and TV programmes, including VOA
, are the only source of information inside Tibet besides the state sponsored propaganda news.
China has also actively banned foreign journalists from visiting Tibetan areas and those few who have been able to sneak past scores of military checkpoints have been harassed, detained, and threatened with visa cancellations.
Last year, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said the restrictions imposed on the journalists were in “clear violation” of China’s regulations governing foreign reporters and noted that the journalists were merely trying to “independently confirm the truth of reports” from the area.
The same documentary once again blamed the Dharamshala based Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro-independence group in exile, of instigating self-immolations.
TYC had earlier rejected
China’s allegations as “baseless and fallacious” and instead called on the Chinese leaders to pay heed to the demands of the self-immolators.
According to Xinhua
, the documentary will also be aired on CCTV's
French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian channels on Wednesday and Thursday.
Since 2009, as many as 99 known Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting Chinese rule and demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
Exile Tibetans have repeatedly called on China to allow foreign diplomats and journalists to visit Tibet and resolve the Tibetan issue through negotiations.