Self-immolation bids sign of overseas instigation: China

October 18th, 2011 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Oct 18 (IANS) Religious affairs officials Tuesday said recent self-immolation attempts by Tibetan monks in southwest China appeared to have been instigated by a clique jockeying for power in the overseas Tibetan community headed by spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Several Tibetan monks attemped self immolation in Aba County of Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, this year. All of them were current or former monks of Kirti Monastery, reported Xinhua.

In the latest suicide attempt, a man set himself on fire at midday Saturday near a market in Aba. Police extinguished the flames and sent him to a local hospital. The 20-year-old man had previously been a monk at Kirti Monastery.

Kirti is a monastery of the Gelugpa, also known as the Yellow Hat Sect. It is one of 42 monasteries in Aba county, an area with 5,226 registered monks.

Song Tendargye, head of Aba’s religious affairs bureau, told Xinhua that the recent self-immolation attempts came at a time when the Kirti Monastery clique of the exiled Tibetan group have struggled to regain clout under the Dalai Lama.

The official said Kirti Monastery’s former Living Buddha once served as the private aide to the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso after he fled to India in 1959 and, later, became a senior religious official of Dalai Lama’s “government-in-exile”. But the clique’s clout dwindled after he left his post.

The Kirti clique recently set up an emergency coordination team to work closely with key groups and agencies under the Dalai Lama and his “government-in-exile” in an effort to regain the clique’s clout, said Sumton Dargye.

Song Tendargye said the Tibetan community in Aba was disgusted that Kirti’s former Living Buddha led prayer services for those who had attempted self-immolation.

Ha Jun, deputy chief of the religious bureau in Aba, said a group of four Kirti Monastery monks were widely suspected to have masterminded a series of suicide attempts. On March 2, 2011, they plotted a self-immolation and spread photos of the scene on the web within two hours.

“The monks who made the move were all young with little education and were, therefore, unable to tell right from wrong,” said Qing Quan, an official with Aba county’s religious affairs bureau.

A Living Buddha Monday denounced the spate of self-immolation attempts, saying such extremism is detrimental to the development of Tibetan Buddhism.

“Tibetan Buddhism stresses benevolence and caring, and is a complete system of faith and sublime values as a result of its opposition to blind superstition,” said Living Buddha Gyalton, vice president of the Sichuan Provincial Buddhist Association.

The senior monk said suicide is a severe deviation from the tenets of Buddhism and self-mutilation for any reason is against human nature.

“The recent chain of self-immolation attempts by monks has triggered public bewilderment and repulsion, causing the public to gradually lose faith,” he said.

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