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XINING - A total of 70 criminal suspects have been captured by police in Huangnan of northwest China's Qinghai Province in connection with a string of self-immolations that have occurred since November 2012, a senior police officer said Thursday.
Lyu Benqian, deputy chief of the Qinghai Provincial Public Security Department, said 12 of the suspects were officially arrested over the self-immolation cases in the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
The Dalai Lama clique masterminded and incited the self-immolations, said Lyu, who is also head of a special police team investigating the self-immolations. Personal information, such as photos of the victims, were sent overseas to promote the self-immolations, he added.
"Some of the victims were frustrated and pessimistic in life, and they wanted to earn respect by self-immolation," Lyu said when analyzing the motive for the self-immolations.
"Meanwhile, a few individuals with a strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example," he added.
The self-immolation cases were influenced by the separatism of the Dalai Lama clique, as the Dalai Lama has prayed for self-immolators and Tibetan separatists overseas flaunt them as "heroes," according to the officer.
Self-immolations in neighboring Sichuan and Gansu provinces encouraged more self-immolators, added the officer.
Jinpa, a monk at the Rongwo Monastery of Tongren county for 10 years, set himself alight and died at Regong Cultural Square on November 8, 2012.
He resumed secular life after falling in love with a woman, but later discovered that she was a prostitute and parted with her, according to Jigme Tenzin, Jinpa's closest friend.
Jinpa said he was sad about being slighted by family after he resumed secular life and thought that monks and locals would pray for him after he self-immolated, Jigme Tenzin recounted. On the night before his death, the two were watching a Tibetan-language TV program on Voice of America, which was broadcasting news about the self-immolations.
Kyihe Monkyi, a 26-year-old divorced woman, died by self-immolation on November 17, 2012 in Rongwo township in Tongren. She had sexual relationships with several men, which led to her divorce, according to a police investigation.
Her family demanded that she reunite with her former husband for the sake of their children. She could not bear the pressure and set herself ablaze one day before the date her family had set for the resumption of her marriage.
Kyihe Monkyi, a taxi driver, attended Jinpa's funeral. She showed sympathy and worship for self-immolators and called them "heroes." At Jinpa's funeral, monks and locals offered donations.
Police investigation has found some people set themselves ablaze to achieve both "fame" and economic gains.
On November 15 last year, Tamzin Zhoima, a 23-year-old villager from another township in Tongren, set herself ablaze. On November 22, her father Urglo contacted overseas people via domestic intermediators, planning to offer 25,000 yuan (about 3,980 U.S. dollars) for the Dalai Lama and Indian monks to chant Buddhist scriptures for his daughter, Lyu said.
"Investigations showed that 8,000 yuan was arranged to be given directly to the Dalai Lama and the rest to monks attending the ritual," said Lyu.
"The money has not been remitted, yet overseas people have advanced the fees for him. There has been hard evidence to prove that the Dalai Lama clique has both claimed lives and swindled people," he said.
Phagpa, a young Tibetan in Dowa Town of Tongren, attended the funerals of six self-immolators, including Jinpa. He offered donations for their families and worked to spread ideas related to separatism and "Tibetan independence."
Phagpa himself attempted to incite a 24-year-old monk, Drolma Je, to self-immolate, but the monk was discovered and prevented from doing so by his relatives, according to police.
In 2005, Phagpa illegally left China for India, where he received comprehensive training at an institute specially created for the "Tibetan independence" forces of the Dalai Lama clique.
After his return in July 2011, Phagpa worked as a teacher and organized free English training classes. In June 2012, he joined an illegal association in Tongren and delivered agitative speeches at the funerals of self-immolators on behalf of the organization.
On November 8, 2012, Phagpa organized more than 50 primary school students and local herders to gather in front of the Dowa township government, shouting slogans related to "Tibetan independence."
Drolma Je said he had known Phagpa prior to the latter's trip to India, meeting him in June and July last year. Phagpa told him "self-immolation will be conducive to the return of the Dalai Lama to the Tibetan region and a good thing for Tibetans."
Phagpa and Drolma Je have been detained and charged with murder and endangering public security, respectively.