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Large Rewards for Information on 'Black Hand' Behind Tibetan Self-Immolations

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Chinese security authorities have posted notices today in the Labrang area offering substantial rewards for information about "black hand" behind four recent Tibetan self-immolations in Gansu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Reports from Labrang today indicate an intense military buildup in the town of Labrang and Labrang Tashikyil monastery, which is one of the most important and influential in Tibet. The October 13 self-immolation of Tamdin Dorjee, the grandfather of an important reincarnate lama, the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche, is likely to have alarmed local officials because of this close connection to a lama installed at Labrang monastery.

Harrowing images emerged yesterday (October 23) of the self-immolation of Dorje Rinchen in the main street in Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe), a day after the self-immolation at Labrang monastery of Dhondup.

A translation into English of one of the notices, obtained by ICT in a photograph and posted in and around the cities and townships throughout the prefecture, follows below. The notice, which is in Tibetan, was posted by the Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Prefecture Public Security Department, Gansu Province. The notice reflects the authorities' hardline position, ascribing blame to the "Dalai clique" and "sabotage by separatist forces in our territory and abroad" for the four self-immolations that have happened in Gannan prefecture in just over a week. (The notice does not mention the October 6 self-immolation in Tsoe, Gannan, of Sangay Gyatso.)

"The language used in the notice is consistent with the absence of official acknowledgement of policies or practices that have assuredly contributed to the 58 self-immolations in Tibet since February 2009. Instead officials continue to characterize the Tibetan self-immolations as imitative, criminal, or misguided acts of 'terrorism-in-disguise,'" said Mary Beth Markey, ICT President.

The notice states: " Anyone who reports and informs the legal authorities on the people who plan, incite to carry out, control and lure people to commit self-immolation will be awarded 50,000RMB ($8,000)" and that "Anyone who correctly informs on the black hand behind the four self-immolation incidents that have already happened will be awarded 200,000RMB ($32,006)." The rewards offered are substantially higher than reports of earlier rewards schemes. According to a Radio Free Asia report in March, a Tibetan source said that the local authorities in some areas of Gansu had promised residents a reward of 5,000 yuan (U.S. $832) if they alerted police and gave "credible" information about potential self-immolations. According to the same report, the self-immolation of a handicapped Tibetan called Tsekhog in Luchu (Chinese: Luqu) may have been prevented due to information from local informants.

Following widespread global media coverage of the self-immolations in the past few days, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei today reasserted the Chinese government's hardline position. According to the BBC, Hong Lei told reporters: "To our knowledge most of the self-immolation cases in the Tibetan-inhabited regions are related to the instigation of the Dalai clique. In order to realize their separatist goals, the Dalai clique has incited some people to self-immolate. This is despicable and should be condemned."

The Dalai Lama spoke about the self-immolations in a broadcast interview during his visit to Syracuse, New York, USA, earlier this month, asserting that the Tibetan self-immolations are non-violent expressions about Chinese policies in Tibet. He said that the ongoing struggle in Tibet is between the "power of truth and the power of the gun...in the short term the power of the gun is much stronger, and in the long term the power of truth is much stronger."

A full translation into English by ICT of the notice posted by the Gannan Public Security Bureau is below:

Notice
Because of the sabotage by separatist forces in our territory and abroad, and because of the Dalai clique, there were four self-immolation incidents that happened in our prefecture. Those seriously impacted the situation of social harmony and the people's happy lives.

Self-immolation is an extreme action against human beings, against society, and against the law, and it deprives the right to life for the human being. Those terrorist actions are ungrateful of how your parents raised you, and look down upon and violate your own life. It is also not a responsible action for your family and society. The self-immolation incidents that happened recently are the political sabotage by the Dalai clique to separate China and sabotage the ethnic unity. All citizens must realize the situation, love your life, and take the initiative to stop this kind of criminal action. To expose the black hand behind the scene in a timely and correct manner, to crack down on such illegal criminal action under the law, and defend the harmonious situation in our prefecture, the police department decided:

-Anyone who reports and informs the legal authorities on the people who plan, incite to carry out, control and lure people to commit self-immolation will be awarded 50,000RMB.

-Anyone who correctly informs on the black hand who is behind the four self-immolation incidents that have already happened will be awarded 200,000RMB.

-Public Security authorities will keep the informant's name absolutely secret and will be responsible for their security.

-The award will be paid in a special way and method. [Note: This appears to promise a degree of anonymity in the process for informants.]

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