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China arrests five more Tibetans on self-immolation charges
Phayul[Wednesday, February 27, 2013 23:36]
DHARAMSHALA, February 27: Chinese police in eastern Tibet have arrested five more Tibetans for the alleged roles in convincing three people to set themselves on fire.

Those arrested have been identified as Dhargey, Samten, Tashi Gyatso, Tenpei Gyalpo, and Tensang.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua today said that one of the main suspects “acted under the instructions” of members of the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro-independence group in exile and journalists of the US based broadcaster, Voice of America.

“After each incident, Karong Takchen (Dhargey) and other suspects were on the spot to take photos and send them abroad,” the report cited the police as saying.

The five arrested have been blamed for “recruiting and encouraging” the self-immolation protests of Dorjee Rinchen, Thubwang Kyab, and Gonpo Tsering.

However, on January 31, a Chinese court in eastern Tibet had already sentenced six Tibetans to heavy jail terms of up to 12 years for their alleged roles in Dorjee Rinchen’s self-immolation protest.

Dorjee Rinchen, 57, set himself on fire in Labrang region of eastern Tibet on October 23, 2012. He carried out his protest near the local PLA recruiting center in Labrang and succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Thubwang Kyab, 23, torched his body on the main street of Sangkog town in Sangchu on October 26, 2012 protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

Gonpo Tsering, 19, self-immolated in Lushoe village in Tsoe region of eastern Tibet on November 10, 2012 raising slogans demanding freedom for Tibetans and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

VoA has already dismissed China’s charges of its involvement in the self-immolations, calling them “totally false” and “absurd.” VoA Director David Ensor further called on Chinese official news agencies to “retract” their stories linking the US based broadcaster to the fiery protests.

TYC has also 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.

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities in the Malho region of Tibet arrested 70 “criminal suspects” in connection with a “string of self-immolations that have occurred since November 2012.” Several other Tibetans have also been arrested on similar charges.

Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said China’s criminalisation of the self-immolations as “murder” is a “highly condemnable” misuse of legal provisions for fulfilling political objectives.

“The Chinese government needs to seriously address the real causes of self-immolation protests; it needs to acknowledge that the burning protests are a direct result of its destructive policies,” TCHRD said.

The United Nations, European Union, the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom have issued strong public statements blaming China’s policies for exacerbating the situation in Tibet and urged Beijing to address the grievances of the Tibetan people.
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