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China vs. India: the battle for Buddha

LUMBINI, Nepal — For the past several months, a curious mystery has unfolded around Lumbini, the latest beachhead in the quiet battle for Buddha.

China: Dalai Lama encourages suicide, says paper

Communist newspaper says the Buddhist leader has benefited from Tibet's spate of self-immolations.
China dalai lama 2012 01 11Enlarge
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama visits the Mahabodhi Temple on his way back after the conclusion of the Kalachakra Festival in Bodhgaya on January 11, 2012. Kalachakra 2012, a festival of teachings and meditations will take place from January 1, 2012 for ten days in the northern Indian state of Bihar and will be attended by Tibetan Spiritual Leader The Dalai Lama. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking of suicide as a bargaining tool, China's nationalistic Global Times newspaper is accusing the Dalai Lama of that very thing.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the newspaper scolded the Tibetan spiritual leader over the latest spate of self-immolations in the Tibet region.

Last weekend, three more people reportedly set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas of China to protest Chinese rule of Tibet. Those three deaths are only the latest in a series of protests by fire across the Tibetan plateau since late last year.

More from GlobalPost: What compels a Buddhist nun to burn herself alive?

The Global Times, often known for its vitriolic opinion pieces, heaps scorn upon the Dalai Lama, referring to "the Dalai group," and unsubtle reference to Chinese government assertions that hostile foreign forces aligned with the Dalai Lama are behind all unrest in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama hasn't set foot in China in decades, but he remains a polarizing figure for official China.

"The Dalai group has become an interest group outside China. They are exiles, but they need to survive. Therefore, they sell themselves to the West to help against China. If they only prayed and delivered sermons in foreign countries, their lives would be much worse," the newspaper wrote.

"The selfishness and ruthlessness of the Dalai group are carefully packaged by the West. The so-called 'Tibetan independence' or 'high degree of autonomy' that the Dalai group is pursuing are unreachable. They know this very well. But what they really care about is not the results but the slogans to help the West interfere in China's domestic affairs. The slogans also helped the Dalai Lama win the Nobel Peace Prize and gain considerable sums of financial support from the West."

Related: Body of self-immolated Tibetan monk "publicly paraded" in China

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Richard Gere calls China "largest hypocrisy in the world"

The actor says that China will never be able to break Tibet's spirit.
China gere tibet 2012 01 11Enlarge
US actor Richard Gere speaks at the unveiling of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's new book 'Beyond Religion' during the last day of the Kalachakra Festival in Bodhgaya on January 10, 2012. Kalachakra 2012, a festival of teachings and meditations will take place from January 1, 2012 for ten days in the northern Indian state of Bihar and will be attended by Tibetan Spiritual Leader The Dalai Lama. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Leave it to Richard Gere to not mince words on China and Tibet.

Gere, a longtime outspoken supporter of the Dalai Lama and critic of China's repressive rule of the region, called China "the largest hypocrisy in the world right now," in an interview with Indian television.

The Hollywood Reporter has the choice bits of the actor's takedown of China.

“Are we more interested in money or are we more interested in the truth?", Gere said during an interview with English-language channel NDTV 24x7.

"Eventually you have to bow to the will of the people and especially as their progress as an economy, education also gets higher; their interactions with the world and other people's functioning in the world, and the openness of self-expression. No one wants to live in hypocrisy, and China is the largest hypocrisy in the world right now. ”

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Body of self-immolated Tibetan monk 'publicly paraded' in China

According to witnesses, angry Tibetans demanded that police return the monk's charred remains, which they then carried through the streets.

2011: year for self-immolations

JAKARTA — On Dec. 10, an Indonesian student died from extensive burn wounds suffered after he set himself on fire, the latest victim of an extreme form of protest that gripped the world in 2011.  

Han students: "Beat the Tibetans, get extra credit"

3,000 Han students reportedly organized an attack on Tibetan students in Chengdu.

In a microcosm of tensions that grip much of China, a large group of Han Chinese students launched an attack on Tibetan students at Chengdu Railroad Engineering School.

According to one blog, which appears to have been written by one of the Han students who took part in the attack, there were 3,000 Han students who participated in the attack.

They surrounded the Tibetan dorms and attacked roughly 200 Tibetan students on the evening of Dec. 14. Their slogan was: "Beat the Tibetans, get extra credit."

The blogger writes:

In fighting that lasted all night, the Tibetan dormitory was destroyed, the doors and windows completely smashed. The Tibetan classrooms were also ruined. A bunch of Tibetan students were beaten badly enough to be sent to the hospital.

China Digital Times has the full translation of the blog, which has since been made private. And here are some photos of the attack on Invisible Tibet.

More from GlobalPost: What should the Dalai Lama do?

The attack comes amid heightening tensions in Tibet, where 12 monks and nuns have self-immolated this year in protest of China's grip on their homeland. Most of these self-immolations have occurred in Sichuan province, of which Chengdu is the capital.

While the precise trigger to this attack remains unclear, it does show how deeply entrenched the animosity has become. China has long feared a Tibetan separatist movement. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly called for Tibetan autonomy, rather than independence.

Video from GlobalPost: Tibetan self-immolation (GRAPHIC)

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Another Tibetan monk dies after self-immolation

Of the 12 self-immolations this year in protest of China, this is the first in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Is the phenomenon spreading?
Tibet monk fire protest 2011 10 26Enlarge
A Tibetan Buddhist monk walks on the Potala Palace square on June 19, 2009 in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Traditionally, Lhasa is the seat of the Dalai Lama, the capital of Tibet and is the highest capital in the world. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, in 1959. (Feng Li)

Tenzin Phuntsog, a 46-year-old Tibetan and former monk, is reported to have died Dec. 6 from burns he suffered while self-immolating on Dec. 1, according to rights groups.

BBC reports that he died in Chamdo (called Chengdu in Chinese) hospital, located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

More from GlobalPost: Tibet is burning

Tenzin Phuntsog is the 12th monk or nun to have self-immolated this year in protest of China's grip on Tibet. Seven of the 12 have died.

He is the first, however, to have self-immolated in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Is the phenomenon spreading?

The majority of the 12 have self-immolated in or near Kirti monastery in neighboring Sichuan province, home to many ethnic Tibetans.

The story of these Tibetan Buddhists and the apparent psychological rupture that has occurred in their community, prompting a spate of self-immolations has just been named the year's most under-reported story by Time magazine.

Video: Outcry over Tibetan self-immolations (GRAPHIC)

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Photos show China punishing Tibetan monks: report

The photos, reportedly taken in Tibetan areas of China's Sichuan province, show monks with placards around their necks that detail their crimes, such as "splitting the nation."

GRAPHIC VIDEO: Tibetan Exiles Say Protests May Turn Violent

Tibetan exiles living in India protest self-immolations by monks and nuns in their home country.

GRAPHIC video: Tibetan self-immolations

Experts say the protest movement out of Tibet is likely to continue growing unless China changes its hard-line policies.

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