[TNN] SHIMLA, Aug 6: International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a Tibet advocacy group based in the US, has released a special report titled “Acts of significant evil: The criminalisation of Tibetan self-immolations,” documenting the wave of self-immolations in Tibet and the intensified response of the Chinese government.
ICT has urged the Chinese government to release all Tibetans who have been detained and sentenced on grounds “incitement to” or “aiding” self-immolations, and whose actions themselves do not represent punishable behavior under Chinese criminal law or international law.
“Since 2009, there have been 131 (sic) self-immolations by Tibetans in Tibet and China, whose common call has been for the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet. The Chinese Communist Party has responded with an intensified wave of repression in Tibet, by punishing those allegedly ‘associated’ with self-immolators, including friends, families and even entire communities,” ICT said.
“Since 2012, at least 11 Tibetans have been sentenced to prison terms or even death on ‘intentional homicide’ charges, because they have allegedly ‘aided’ or ‘incited’ others to self-immolate,” it added.
The report also listed 98 Tibetans, since 2010, who have been subjected to punishments for their alleged association with a self-immolation, arguing that in most cases, there is no evidence that those convicted either spoke to the self-immolator or even knew the self-immolator.
ICT has also accused the Chinese authorities of deliberate attempts to penalize families and the broader community when a Tibetan self-immolates in protest against the Chinese government policies. For instance, in a set of new regulations passed in April 2013 in one of the areas where several self-immolations have occurred, the entire community is faced with financial and other penalties, it said.
The Tibet advocacy group has requested Chinese government to address the underlying grievances of the Tibetan people, instead of stepping up clampdowns and imposing collective punishments when a Tibetan self-immolates. It urged China to respect the universal rights of Tibetan people and called for a meaningful dialogue with Tibetans to resolve the ongoing issue.
ICT has also called on international community to raise the inconsistency of measures adopted by the Chinese government towards Tibetans, particularly with regard to self-immolation protests in Tibet, with international and Chinese laws.