Members of 'Dalai Lama clique' detained

2013-02-08 12:50
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Beijing - Police have detained 70 Tibetans suspected of aiding or encouraging self-immolation protests in a restive area of western China's Qinghai province, state media said on Friday.

The arrests in the Huangnan area were linked to a series of self-immolations since November, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Liu Benqian, the province's deputy police chief, as saying.

Liu said "the Dalai Lama clique" had orchestrated self-immolations by Tibetans, referring to the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the agency reported.

Some of those who self-immolated were "frustrated and pessimistic in life," while others motivated by a "strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example", he said.

Liu was quoted as saying earlier protests in neighbouring Tibetan areas of Gansu and Sichuan provinces had encouraged self-immolations in Qinghai.

The agency gave no details of any charges against the 70 Tibetans detained.

About 100 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in China since 2009 to protest Chinese government policies and call for greater religious, political and cultural autonomy.

The government announced a campaign in December to prosecute Tibetans who assisted self-immolation protestors, many of whom are Buddhist monks.

Two courts in Sichuan and Gansu convicted eight Tibetans of inciting self-immolation protests last week, handing one a suspended death sentence and jailing the others for up to 12 years.

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