Dalai Lama cautions against self-immolations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:43am

Tibetans setting themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule are having little effect on Beijing's policies, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said yesterday, while urging China to look harder at the reasons behind the incidents.

About 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Chinese rule since 2009, mostly in heavily Tibetan areas of Sichuan , Gansu and Qinghai provinces rather than in what China terms the Tibet Autonomous Region. Most have died.

"It's a sad thing that happens. Of course it's very very sad. In the meantime, I express I doubt how much effect [there is] from such drastic actions," the Dalai Lama told reporters during a visit to Australia.

A Tibetan nun who set fire to herself in protest at Chinese rule on Tuesday appeared to have survived the self-immolation attempt, a rights group and a media outlet said.

The woman set herself ablaze near Nyitso monastery - the scene of similar protests - in Daofu county, an area with many ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan, Radio Free Asia said.

A Chinese official in March accused the Dalai Lama of providing money to encourage people to set themselves on fire, and said there was evidence to prove the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was orchestrating self-immolations. The Dalai Lama, 77, has called the acts "understandable," but says he does not encourage them.

Several Tibet scholars have criticised his stance, saying his reluctance to tell his people to stop has strengthened their resolve to continue the protests. Beijing considers the Dalai Lama, who fled from China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, a violent separatist.