The Voice of America has vehemently denied allegations made by China Daily and in a CCTV documentary that the US broadcaster is encouraging Tibetan protesters to self-immolate.
The CCTV program, broadcast in English on Wednesday night, included an interview with a man identified as a Tibetan who tried to self-immolate but failed. The man told CCTV he set himself on fire after watching VOA (which, come on dude, their programming isn’t that boring):
“I did it after watching VOA,” he told the CCTV interviewer. “I saw the photographs of self-immolators being commemorated. They were treated like heroes.”
A story published this week in the English-language China Daily made similarly outlandish accusations:
Some foreign media later branded Tsekho a “Tibetan martyr” protesting the growing influence of Han Chinese on the Tibetan plateau. They also used his story as an excuse to attract international attention to the so-called Tibet issue and the ultimate pursuit of “Tibetan independence,” a campaign spearheaded by the Tibetan government-in-exile, with the Dalai Lama as its spiritual leader.
Police investigations show that Sangdegye was introverted and believed in the Dalai Lama clique saying that self-immolations were a sacrifice for the great Tibetan undertaking. One of his friends set himself alight and died on May 27, 2012, a move that shocked Sangdegye.
Sangdegye used to watch Voice of America Tibetan-language programs, and said he adored the self-immolators VOA reported on, because they were like “heroes”.
I’ve written in the past that prosecuting people for inciting self-immolations is on principle a good idea (though I abhor the imposition of the death penalty on those convicted). Those who take advantage of (nearly always young) people’s lack of education and religious devotion and encourage them to take their own lives “for the cause”, should be punished under the law. The exiled Tibetan community, especially the Dalai Lama, should be more vociferous in its condemnation of these horrible suicides, despite the ultimate blame lying with the CPC for creating the environment that fostered them.
That being said, blaming ‘outside forces’ like VOA is the the laziest play in the book, and one Chinese officials come back to time and again. Accusing VOA of using “secret code” to send messages from the Dalai Lama to people inside Tibet, as the CCTV program did, is beyond absurd. Everyone involved in the production of this ‘documentary’ should be embarrassed to call themselves journalists.