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China accuses Dalai Lama of 'terrorism in disguise'

20 october 2011, 11:09
Beijing on Wednesday accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of encouraging the self-immolations of Tibetan Buddhists in China and said this was "terrorism in disguise", AFP reports.

China's foreign ministry said the "Dalai group" -- a reference to the Tibetan spiritual leader and his followers -- had "played up" the protests in southwest China, which have escalated dramatically in recent weeks.

"In the wake of the incidents, overseas Tibet independent forces and the Dalai group did not criticise the cases," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told journalists at a regular briefing.

"On the contrary, they beautified, played up such issues to incite more people to follow suit. As we know, such splittist activities at the cost of human lives is violence and terrorism in disguise."

The Dalai Lama has in the past condemned the practice of self-immolation, which experts say goes against Buddhist ideas on the sanctity of life.

A Buddhist nun this week became the first woman to self-immolate when she set fire to herself in southwest China calling for religious freedom.

Nine Tibetan Buddhists have now set fire to themselves in the area since March, when the self-immolation of a young monk on the third anniversary of riots in Lhasa sparked large protests.

Tibetan monks in China have said the self-immolations are linked to Beijing's refusal to engage with the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Jiang said Chinese law enshrined the right to religious freedom, including in the country's Tibetan areas.

"The religious demands of these religious people have also been fully satisfied," she added. "We will ensure normal operations of religious activities."

AFP journalists who travelled this week to the town of Aba, where many of the self-immolations have taken place, saw large groups of soldiers and police in full riot gear with automatic weapons and iron bars.

One official in the town said on Wednesday that the Internet was not available, but that no extra security measures had been taken.

"Some police are on streets as usual and there isn't extra force. It is safe here," said the woman, who works for the Aba propaganda office and gave only her family name, Jia.

"The internet has not been working for a while here, and I don't know why. We are all at work as normal. There is no danger in Aba."

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