China fires Tibet officials over unrest: report

(AFP) BEIJING — Tibet's top leader has fired three officials for failing to crack down on unrest in the region, state press said Thursday, a day after another Tibetan set himself alight to protest China's rule.

Chen Quanguo, Communist Party head of Tibet, announced the sackings in a Wednesday meeting at which he also called for increased pressure on Tibetan separatists led by what he called the "Dalai clique", the Tibet Daily reported.

Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, for unrest in Tibet and nearby areas in recent months in protest against what many ethnic Tibetans see as religious and cultural repression by Beijing.

The official Tibet Daily said the three officials were fired for leaving their posts during last month's Lunar New Year celebrations, in violation of orders.

The sackings come after an official in Tibetan areas in neighbouring Sichuan province pledged this week to fire any official found lacking in efforts to "safeguard stability," a term that routinely refers to stamping down on unrest.

"We must deeply recognise that the fight against the Dalai clique is a long-term, complicated, and at times a very sharp struggle," the paper quoted Chen as saying.



"We must thoroughly... and completely grasp and implement every measure aimed at safeguarding social stability and firmly take the initiative in the struggle against separatism."

The three fired officials worked for the region's human resources department, a government organ responsible for job placement.

On Wednesday, a Tibetan set himself alight in Sichuan, bringing to at least 20 the number of people who have attempted suicide in the past year in protest of China's policies, the International Campaign for Tibet said.

Tibetans have long chafed at China's rule over the vast Tibetan plateau, accusing Beijing of curbing religious freedoms and eroding their culture and language, and these tensions have intensified over the past year.

Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have benefited from improved living standards brought on by China's economic expansion.

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