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70 arrested in Qinghai over self-immolations

By Xinhua in Xining | Updated: 2013-02-08 07:44

Seventy suspects have been arrested in Huangnan in Northwest China's Qinghai province in connection with a series of self-immolations that have taken place since November, a senior police officer said on Thursday.

Lyu Benqian, deputy chief of the Qinghai Public Security Department, said 12 of the suspects were arrested over self-immolation cases in the Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture. He said police will make more efforts to thoroughly investigate the cases and seriously punish those who incite innocent people to commit self-immolation.

The Dalai Lama clique masterminded and incited the self-immolations, said Lyu, who is also head of a special police team investigating the incidents. 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.

"Meanwhile, a few individuals with a strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example," he added.

The officer said self-immolations were influenced by the separatism of the Dalai Lama clique, as the Dalai Lama has prayed for self-immolators, and Tibetan separatists overseas hail them as "heroes". Self-immolations in neighboring Sichuan and Gansu provinces encouraged more such incidents, Lyu added.

Jinpa, a monk at Rongwo Monastery in Tongren county for 10 years, set himself alight and died in Regong Cultural Square on Nov 8.

He had resumed secular life after falling in love with a woman, but later discovered she was a prostitute and parted with her, according to Jigme Tenzin, Jinpa's closest friend.

Jinpa said he was saddened after being shunned by his family when he resumed secular life and thought that monks and locals would pray for him after he self-immolated, Jigme Tenzin said.

The night before his death, the pair were watching a Tibetan-language TV program on Voice of America, which was broadcasting news of the self-immolations.

Kyihe Monkyi, a 26-year-old divorced woman, died after self-immolation on Nov 17 in Rongwo township, Tongren. She had sexual relationships with several men, which led to her divorce, police said.

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 a day before the date her family set for the marriage to resume,

Kyihe Monkyi, a taxi driver, attended Jinpa's funeral. She showed sympathy for self-immolators and called them "heroes." At Jinpa's funeral, monks and local people offered donations.

The police investigation has also found that some people set themselves on fire to achieve "fame" and economic gains.

On Nov 15, Tamzin Zhoima, a 23-year-old villager from another township in Tongren, set herself ablaze. On Nov 22, her father, Urglo, contacted people overseas through domestic intermediaries, planning to offer 25,000 yuan ($3,980) for the Dalai Lama and Indian monks to chant Buddhist scriptures for his daughter, Lyu said.

"Investigations showed that it was arranged for 8,000 yuan 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.

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