Chinese authorities issue ultimatum, offer cash prize for “crimes” linked to Tibet self-immolations
DHARAMSHALA: Chinese authorities in Malho region of eastern Tibet have announced cash rewards for those “exposing crimes” related to the ongoing wave of self-immolations and issued an ultimatum warning those who have “committed fault” to turn themselves in.
The notices were jointly issued by the Malho People’s Intermediate Court and the Public Security Bureau in the Tibetan areas of Rebkong, Tsekhog, and Chentsa which fall under its jurisdiction.
The Malho region of eastern Tibet carried a major part of the casualties in the recent alarming escalation in self-immolation protests and mass demonstrations by thousands of Tibetans, including school students against the Chinese government. Since October, 44 Tibetans have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with the latest being a teenaged schoolgirl Bhenchen Kyi from Tsekhog.
In copies of the notices sent to Phayul by a Swiss based Tibetan, Sonam, Chinese authorities have given an ultimatum to Tibetans who have “committed fault,” to turn themselves in before November 30 in lure of “lesser” punishment.
The notices, issued in Tibetan and Chinese languages, encourage people to “accept their crimes” of inciting self-immolations, displaying portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama during mass funerals of the self-immolators, raising “separatist” slogans, offering condolences to the family members of self-immolators, “unlawfully” taking pictures and videos of self-immolations and sending them out and spreading rumours and indulging in provocative talks.
The authorities have warned that those who are caught under these crimes after the given deadline will be dealt severely according to the law.
In recent weeks, authorities have engineered a heavy security clampdown in the region, arresting several Tibetans from Rebkong and Tsekhog in connection with the self-immolation protests.
Along with the ultimatum, Chinese authorities have employed its age-old policy of sowing distrust in the society by announcing heavy monetary rewards for information on self-immolators and those who “incite” such protests.
Cash prizes ranging from 1,000 Chinese Yaun (US $ 160) of 200,000 Chinese Yuan (US $ 32,000) have been announced for information exposing self-immolators, those inciting self-immolations, and those who have visited families of self-immolators to offer condolences. Rewards have also been announced for those who avert self-immolations from occurring at the site of the protest.
The authorities further promised to protect the identity of the informants and called the self-immolation protests a “bad influence” on social harmony and stability, not just of the region but also of the entire nation.
Similar tactics of announcing cash rewards and offering bribes to families of self-immolators to state that the protests were not against the Chinese government, have been employed earlier in other parts of Tibet as well.
A phone call to the Tsekhog Public Security Bureau Office by Phayul yielded little result as the official who answered the call in the supposedly Tibetan office refused to speak in Tibetan and spoke only Mandarin.