China tightens controls on Tibet in wake of self-immolations


Qiangba Puncog, chairman of China's Tibet Autonomous Region leaves through a panel door after a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2012. China has ramped up security in Tibetan areas, after new self-immolation protests belied boasts of national unity at a key Communist Party congress in Beijing.



Chinese authorities are moving to tighten control over Tibet in the wake of a rash of self-immolations in the region.

Reuters reported that China confiscated televisions from 300 monasteries and dismantled satellite equipment that broadcast "anti-China" programs.

In the past 18 months, an unprecedented 91 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, protesting China's occupation of Tibet. The Washington Post said it was a sign of despair over the Chinese government's attempts to assimilate Tibetans.

The state-run Qinghai news agency said on Thursday that the government in Huangnan plans to guide "public opinion on the Dalai issue", increase patrols and block "harmful" outsider information, according to Reuters.

"At this critical moment for maintaining social stability in Huangnan prefecture ... (we must) strengthen measures and fully fight the special battle against self-immolations," said the Qinghai news agency.

The Associated Press also cited the report, saying the local government would use economic rewards and punishments to crack down on self-immolations. According to Qinghai, checkpoints will be set up to keep foreigners out of the area.

The prefecture will also keep a close watch on inflammables, monitor residents and organize propaganda campaigns to condemn self-immolations, said the AP.

China's response to the self-immolations has thus far been to blame the Dalai Lama for the unrest.

The self-immolations stem from what the Tibetans see as an erasure of their cultural identity and heritage, as the Chinese government attempts to assimilate the population.

"These are devastating for people, and then there is no freedom of speech and no freedom of expression for the Tibetan people," said Tenzin Dorjee, the executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, according to The Post.

More on GlobalPost: Self-immolators and the Dalai Lama: what they don't have in common