New Rules to Prevent Tibetan Burning Protests in Sichuan County

Tibetans gather at the compound of Thangkor Soktsang monastery in Dzoege in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Family members of Tibetans who self-immolate to protest Chinese rule must be deprived of government aid and employment opportunities and cannot hold any senior village or township level positions, according to rules introduced in a restive Tibetan-populated county in Sichuan province.

In addition, they have to return all state financial aid, and the villages where the self-immolation protests occur must be completely deprived of government assistance, according to a document containing the measures introduced in Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo'ergai) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Based on the document obtained by RFA's Tibetan Service, the authorities introduced 16 rules in Dzoege in April last year to contain self-immolations but they were not publicized amid a clampdown on information flow by Chinese authorities as part of heightened security measures, a Tibetan from Dzoege who just fled into exile said.

“According to an official memo, [the rules were meant to] crack down on some 'criminals' with an ulterior motive of disrupting people's unity and security and the daily livelihood of the people and their social development," Tamdin Kyab told RFA's Tibetan Service.

No land, cash subsidies

He said under the rules families of self-immolators are deprived of government assistance, including use of land and cash subsidies, for a three-year period and have to return all monetary assistance they have received from the authorities three years prior to the burning protests.

Monasteries where self-immolations occur have to pay a penalty of between 10,000 to 50,000 yuan (U.S. $1,650 to U.S. $8,245), he said.

Government officials and staff of monastery management committee who have links to the self-immolators are deprived of promotion opportunities under the new measures while families of self-immolators are barred from traveling to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, for three years, according to the document.

It said that the Dzoege county authorities would provide cash rewards to those who tip them off to self-immolations, guaranteeing the security of the informants.

Several Tibetan-populated counties in Qinghai and Gansu provinces had also introduced measures last year to check self-immolations, such as punishment for those obstructing the “rescue” of self-immolators by Chinese security forces, and sending images or information about the burning protests to Tibetan exile groups.

A total of 126 Tibetans to date have set themselves ablaze to challenge Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and call for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Latest self-immolation victim confirmed dead

Meanwhile, sources confirmed Thursday that the latest Tibetan self-immolation victim has died.

Phagmo Samdrub, 29, who self-immolated on Feb. 5 in Dokarmo township in Tsekhog (in Chinese, Zeku) county in Qinghai province's Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture died probably on the same day and his remains were cremated by the Chinese authorities, the sources told RFA.

“Chinese security forces took his body on Feb. 6 to Ziling [in Chinese, Xining] prefecture, and the next day his remains were cremated and his ashes thrown in the Machu River [Yellow River]," a source said.

“The Chinese officials forced the family to throw the ashes into the Machu River," the source said. "Besides, the deceased had a ring, which the authorities didn’t allow the family to take, and forced them to throw it in the river too.”

Reported by Kunsang Rinzin for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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