Beijing media attacks Dalai Lama over self-immolations
Spiritual leader denounced as a pawn of US and India - just weeks before the start of 'the International Year of Tibet Independence'
Beijing is ramping up the rhetoric against the Dalai Lama before 2013, which has been declared "International Year of Tibet Independence" by pro-independence activists, as state media launch a joint denunciation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Several state media outlets accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging innocent people to engage in self-immolation and said he was used as a pawn by Washington and New Delhi.
Tibetan affairs watchers have warned of a worsening situation in the Himalayan region and expect suppression by the authorities to increase.
Ma Lihua, a Tibetan affairs scholar and editor-in-chief of the state-run Tibetan Study Press, said: "It is the worst scenario in the region since the 1950s. It is unacceptable to see so many Tibetans commit self-immolation, and it only suggests a worsening of Chinese-Tibetan relations, no matter what the reason is behind such acts."
Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan activist and author, warned that the latest developments suggested that Beijing would take an even tougher line against those campaigning for Tibetan rights.
"The crackdown on Tibetans will last a long time and punishment will be severe," Tsering Woeser said.
A regulation issued last week said that anyone who planned, organised, incited or helped others perform self-immolations would be tried for intentional homicide. Tibetan activists say more than 90 Tibetans have self-immolated since February 2009 in protest at suppression of their rights.
Xinhua announced on Sunday that a monk and a herdsman had been arrested in Sichuan's Aba prefecture in August for encouraging self-immolations among monks.
The overseas edition of People's Daily yesterday said the Dalai Lama was stirring things up for the "Year of Tibetan Independence".
"The Dalai clique has yet to see clearly that they are just pawns for the interests of a 'godfather' and his ilk. They will always be discarded ruthlessly when they are no longer any use," it said.
Another commentary in Global Times, an affiliate to People's Daily, said the Tibetan issue was a pawn being used by the United States to interfere in China's domestic affairs.
"These self-immolations make us aware that the US will play the card to disturb China's development, and the interaction between the Dalai group and some Western forces will continue to lead to the ruin of lives," it said.
China Daily said: "Since Dharamsala and the 14th Dalai Lama have been crying for 'human rights' for fellow Tibetans, they may want to share their thoughts on the human rights of those who have been taught and helped to kill themselves."