Community Punished for Self-Immolations

Over the past five years, Tibetans in the Tibetan regions of China and Delhi, India have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. Tibetans struggle to maintain their religious beliefs and culture in a country where their spiritual leader is labelled a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by the central authorities. The news of self-immolations is one of the few clues the outside world has to the situation in Tibet and Tibetan regions of Sichuan.

Between 2012 and 2013, eight people self-immolated in Zoigê (Dzoege) County, Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. Many of them were monks, and all but one were 24 or younger. Seven are confirmed dead; the whereabouts of Sonam Dhargye, who was 17 when he set himself on fire, are unknown. 25-year-old Lobsang Dorje, a former monk, self-immolated in Ngaba on February 13.

Tibetan blogger and activist Woeser has tweeted a photo of new regulations imposed in Zoigê County which punish not only self-immolators, but also their next-of-kin, their monastic communities, and the temples and towns where they set themselves alight:

Every single one of the 16 “Notice of Provisional Anti-Self-Immolation Regulations” is absurd and terrifying. “Villages (districts) or temples where a self-immolation occurs must make a security deposit of 10,000-500,000 yuan into an anti-self-immolation fund”; “The immediate family of self-immolators will be denied permission to leave the country (border) or travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region for three years”…

A full translation of the notice follows:

Zoigê County People’s Government

Notice of Provisional Anti-Self-Immolation Regulations

To all cadres and the masses:

In this pivotal period for the county’s rapid economic and social development and its long-term stability, the vast majority of the general populace, temples, and monks have resolutely upheld the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the socialist system, and the Party’s system of regional ethnic autonomy. This has brought positive gains in maintaining ethnic harmony and social stability throughout the county. However, an extremely small number of criminals and individuals with ulterior motives purposefully act to undermine the overall stability and unity of society in order to achieve their nefarious hidden agendas through a series of self-immolations. These acts have an extremely detrimental influence and seriously disturb the order of everyday life and the people’s production capacity, while also seriously hindering the healthy development of the county’s economy and society. In order to combat these crimes, mete out the necessary punishment and reward, effectively maintain a harmonious and stable social environment, and safeguard the fundamental interests of the masses, and after due research and decision-making, the county government hereby makes the following special provisions:

1. All immediate family of an individual who self-immolates (including parents, spouse, children, and siblings) will no longer be eligible to become a national civil servant, apply for unemployment, become workers or service personnel, or to serve in the military.

2. All immediate family of an individual who self-immolates will no longer be eligible to take part in elections or serve as a representative in any level of people’s congresses [e.g. provincial and national], a Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee member, or a village (district) cadre.

3. Civil servants working in national-level government offices, professionals, workers, and service personnel should consciously strengthen the education of their immediate family; if any one of an individual’s relatives self-immolates, the individual will be strictly dealt with in accordance with regulation.

4. Any individual who commits or is actively involved in a self-immolation will lose all household (residential) benefits for three years and social benefits for one year.

5. Any national investment project being undertaken in a village (district) or temple where a self-immolator is located will be stopped or suspended. All investment and civil society capital projects in the village (district) will be halted.

6. The home (residence) of anyone who commits or is actively involved in a self-immolation will be labeled an untrustworthy household, and the village (district) or temple where the self-immolation occured will be labeled an untrustworthy village (district) or temple, and will be unable to receive loans for three years. Any financial institution that has already granted a loan [to a household, village or temple labeled untrustworthy] will only accept payments and will not disburse further funds.

7. Villages (districts) or temples where a self-immolation occurs must make a security deposit of 10,000-500,000 yuan into an anti-self-immolation fund. If no other self-immolations occur within two years, the money will be refunded; if another self-immolation occurs, the money will be placed into the national treasury, and another deposit will be required.

8. Self-immolations will be linked to the financial support granted to village group (district) cadres, members of the democratic temple management committee, and responsible religious leaders; these people will also not be eligible for excellence awards in that year.

9. Land use rights for farmland and pastures held by self-immolators will be revoked; operating rights for farmland and pastures in the self-immolator’s village (district) will be frozen.

10. For all immediate relatives of an individual who commits self-immolation and the households of active participants, rights to real estate and land will be confirmed, but will not receive any certification; they will not be granted permission to conduct any business activities for three years.

11. The immediate family of self-immolators will be denied permission to leave the country (border) or travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region for three years.

12. Wherever a self-immolation occurs, a “serious measure” will be taken; matters will be handled with the strictest comprehensive administrative enforcement possible.

13. In villages (districts) and temples where self-immolations occur, the township or temple will conduct a legal study session for villagers (residents), monks and nuns, and responsible religious teachers. Immediate family members of a self-immolator and others actively involved who can be implicated by only minor evidence or whose actions do not constitute a criminal offense and have not received legal punishment will be required to participate in legal education classes at a separate locality of 15 or more days in length.

14. Monks and nuns at temples where self-immolations have occurred will be strictly restricted from participating in impromptu and large-scale, cross-regional Buddhist religious events.

15. The finances of temples associated with a self-immolation will be thoroughly examined in accordance with the law. These temples will be ordered to halt all business activities. The temple’s revenue, donations received, and expenditures will be reported to the temple management committee (office) and will be periodically made public to all monks, nuns, and the religious masses.

16. Individuals who provide leads and other information regarding acts of self-immolation will, once their tips are verified, receive an award of 2,000-500,000 yuan, and the identity of the informant will be kept strictly confidential.

The above regulations are effective immediately upon publication, and take precedent over any other provisions inconsistent with the above.

 

若尔盖县人民政府

关于反自焚工作暂行规定的通知

全县广大干部群众:

在全县上下奋力推进经济社会跨越发展和长治久安的关键时期,绝大多数群众、绝大多数寺庙和绝大多数僧人坚决拥护中国共产党的领导、拥护社会主义制度、拥护党的民族区域自治制度,在维护全县民族团结和社会稳定中起到了积极作用。但是极少数别有用心的人和违法犯罪分子为达到不可告人的目的,蓄意破坏安定团结的大好局面,连续制造影响极其恶势的自焚案件,严重干扰了广大人民群众正常的生产生活秩序,严重阻碍了我县经济社会健康发展。为打击犯罪、惩恶扬善,切实维护和谐稳定的社会环境,保障广大人民群众的根本利益,经研究决定,特作如下规定:

一,取消自焚者直系亲属(父母、配偶、子女、兄弟姐妹)报考国家公务员、失业人员、工勤人员和参军的资格。

二,取消自焚者直系亲属参选、担任各级人大代表、政协委员和村组(社区)干部的资格。

三,国家机关公务员、事业人员、工勤人员应自觉加强对亲属的教育,凡直系亲属中出现自焚者,按照相关规定予以严肃处理。

四,取消自焚者及其他积极参与者的家庭(户)三年,所在组一年的所有惠民政策。

五,取消或暂缓自焚者所在村(社区)、寺庙的国家投资项目,停止所在村(社区)所有招商引资和社会民间资金项目。

六,把自焚者及其他积极参与者的家庭(户)列为不诚信户,所在村(社区)、寺庙列为不诚信村(社区)、寺庙,三年内不予发放货款;对金融机构已发放的贷款,实行只收不放。

七,发生自焚案件的村(社区)、寺庙,须缴纳1—50万元的反自焚保证金。若两年内未发生自焚案件,如数退还保证金;若两年内再次发生自焚案件,保证金收缴国库,同时继续缴纳保证金。

八,把自焚案件与村组(社区)干部、寺庙民主管理委员会成员及责任经师的补助挂钩,并取消当年评先创优的资格。

九,对自焚者的耕地和操场的使用权予以收回,冻结自焚者所在村(社区)土地和操场的经营权。

十,对自焚者及其直系亲属、其他积极参与者家庭(户)的宅基地和房屋只确权、不颁证,三年内不予审批一切商业经营活动。

十一,自焚者直系亲属申请出国(边)镜或到西藏自治区,三年内不予审批。

十二,哪里发生自焚案件就对哪里进行“严打”整治,同时予以最严厉的综合行政执法整治。

十三,对发生自焚案件的村(社区)、寺庙,在所在乡镇、寺庙举办村民(居民)、僧尼、责任经师法制学习班,对情节显著轻微、尚不构成刑事犯罪以及治安处罚的自焚者直系亲属和其他参与者必须在异地参加15天以上的法制教育学习班。

十四,对发生自焚案件的寺庙,严格限制僧尼的临时性佛事活动和跨地区的大型佛事活动。

十五,依法清理检查发生自焚案件寺庙的财务,对寺庙的经营活动予以停业整顿。寺庙财务收支情况、接受捐赠和使用情况向寺庙管理委员会(所)报告,定期向僧尼和信教群众公布。

十六,对提供自焚案件线索、情报信息者,一经查实,视其价值给予2000元-50万元的奖励,并严格保密。

本规定从发布之日起执行,若与本规定不相符的,以本规定为准。

The International Campaign for Tibet maintains a fact sheet and map of self-immolations in Tibet from 2009 to the present. Read more about self-immolations and Tibet from CDT.

Translation by Little Bluegill.