Police in southwest China's Sichuan Province have detained a monk and his nephew for their roles in inciting a series of self-immolations.
Lorang Konchok, a 40-year-old monk at the Kirti Monastery in Aba County, had goaded eight people since 2009 to set themselves on fire, three of whom died, police said yesterday.
The monk acted on the instructions of the Dalai Lama and his followers, according to his confession and a police investigation.
After a Kirti Monastery monk named Tapey set himself on fire in February 2009, Lorang Konchok was contacted by key figures with the "media liaison team" of a "Tibet independence" organization of the Dalai Lama group and he continuously sent the organization information about incidents of self-immolation, police said in a statement.
At the requests of the media liaison team, Lorang Konchok took advantage of his position and influence in the monastery and often encouraged others to self-immolate. He told local monks and followers that self-immolation was not against Buddhist doctrines and those who did it were "heroes," the police statement said. He also promised to spread their "deeds" abroad so they and their families would be acknowledged and honored, the statement said.
Lorang Konchok is said to have recruited his nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, to help.
Police said that whenever someone agreed they would commit suicide by setting themselves on fire, the suspects would record their personal and family information, take pictures and promise to "pass the information on to India."
After the incidents, they sent pictures, accounts and other information to overseas contacts belonging to the "Tibet independence" organization via mobile phone.
The two had persuaded several people to attempt self-immolation , but the latter abandoned the idea after their families, local government officials and police officers intervened, the statement said.
Another two people were forced to flee their hometown to avoid Lorang Konchok, who continued to harass them and urge them to exercise self-immolation as soon as possible. They did not return home until Lorang Konchok and Lorang Tsering were apprehended.
Police began their investigation after a series of burnings in Aba in August. They detained Lorang Konchok on August 13 and Lorang Tsering two days later. Police said they would be stepping up their efforts to crack down on anyone who incites such actions.