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Communist officials in Tibetan region punished for separatism, China says

February 2, 2015

By Edward Wong

New York Times, January 28, 2015 - Fifteen Communist Party officials in central Tibet who were accused of taking part in separatist activities last year have been punished for violating party discipline, the Chinese news media reported on Wednesday.

The officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which includes the capital, Lhasa, provided intelligence to the “Dalai Lama clique” and took part in activities that “would harm national security,” according to an article by China News Service, an official agency, that was published by several major news outlets, including Global Times, a populist newspaper, and the website of People’s Daily, the main party newspaper. The report cited officials with the party Commission for Discipline Inspection of Tibet.

The report said there had been six cases of party members and civil servants violating party discipline and 45 officials who had abandoned their posts or neglected their duties. Those 45 officials were being “severely punished,” the report said, citing Wang Gang, a party discipline official.

It was unclear from the report to what degree the cases of these officials overlapped with the 15 cases involving separatist activities.

The report said the officials had assisted a Tibetan independence organization. China often accuses the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, of secretly advocating for Tibetan independence, though the Dalai Lama has insisted he supports only true autonomy for the region. He fled to India in 1959 and lives in a Himalayan hill station above the town of Dharamsala.

The Chinese News Service article said the Tibet region’s party Commission for Discipline Inspection received 1,494 complaints last year from residents about misbehaving officials, an increase of 132 percent over the number in 2013. Of those, 329 cases have been investigated, an increase of 161 percent over 2013, the report said.

A total of 240 people have been dealt with in some manner for violating “eight-point” rules issued in 2014 that were aimed at maintaining party discipline, the report said.

The central government and the local authorities have been increasing the presence of security forces across Tibetan areas of China since 2008, when a mass uprising took place throughout the region. In recent years, scores of frustrated Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese Communist Party rule. The rate of self-immolations slowed for a period, but there has been a resurgence recently in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province. More self-immolations have taken place in Sichuan and Qinghai Provinces than in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is more tightly controlled.

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