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Officials from Tibetan-inhabited areas around China have condemned self-immolation as "inhuman" and have urged people to treasure life.
"Although some cases of self-immolation have happened in Tibetan-inhabited areas recently, such as Sichuan and Qinghai, we haven't witnessed any case in Tibet," Padma Choling, a deputy of the National People's Congress and chairman of the Tibet autonomous region, said on Wednesday.
"The act is inhuman and goes against Buddhist teachings," he said. "Life is precious and it's painful to see that such things keep happening. No one should set themselves on fire."
Wu Zegang, the deputy secretary of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang autonomous prefecture of Sichuan province and NPC deputy, said: "Tibetan separatist forces tout the people who commit self-immolation as so-called heroes. They encourage and support self-immolation, which fully shows that Tibetan separatist forces and the Dalai clique have masterminded the incidents, as well as their evil intentions to separate Tibet from China at the costs of human lives.
"As a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama not only doesn't stop the self-immolation, which is against the religious doctrine of Tibetan Buddhism and also against humanity, but also encourages and supports such acts."
Wu said that the Dalai clique deceives people who have criminal records into believing that self-immolation can wash away their sins and help them seek fulfillment in the afterlife. It was a very tempting and deceptive approach.
"Self-immolation is a violation of the canons of Tibetan Buddhism and we religious people are all opposed to such an extreme act," said Gyaten Lorongjampa, NPC deputy and vice-president of the Buddhist Association of Sichuan, who is also vice-chairman of the CPPCC committee in the Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Sichuan.
Acknowledging the challenge posed by the Dalai Lama, Padma Choling said on Wednesday that the government's popularity in Tibet depends on its work to benefit the people, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
"Let's face reality. The Dalai Lama and his followers do try to attract young Tibetans, but what we need to do is not to compete with them," he said during a panel discussion of the national parliamentary session, when asked by the press to comment on young Tibetans going abroad to follow the Dalai Lama.
"Instead, the key is to improve people's livelihood, especially in education. Also, in monasteries we respect religious practice (instead of trying to compete with someone)," he said. "The popularity of the government will depend on its work."
Tibetan governments at various levels will strive to fulfill the task of benefiting the public and allow residents to enjoy the tangible benefits brought by the central government's policies, he said.
Tibet is working to include all monks and nuns in pension and healthcare programs, Xinhua reported.
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