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27 february 2012 001 copyDHARAMSALA: - A Sichuan Communist Party Boss recently implored monks at Kirti Monastery to cease their "separatist activities," on 26 February.

Liu Qibao, Communist Party chief of the Sichuan province, told the monks of Kirti Monastery to support The Communist Party, sources indicate. Likewise, he warned all citizens to cast aside separatist aspirations and obey all local laws imposed by the Chinese.

"We should resolutely crack down on separatist activities and crimes of all kinds, uphold state unification, ethnic unity and the normal legal order. This upholds the basic interests of the people and upholds their religious freedom,'' said Liu, according to a local Sichuan Newspaper.

"Everyone is equal before the law. No matter whether you are a monk or a nun, you are a citizen first," the paper continued.

Liu, despite being a party boss in an atheist government, is also quoted as having invoked Buddhist scripture in saying that, "there should be no reason to destroy an innocent life." He was obviously referencing the outbreak of self-immolations in Ngaba County since 2009.

Kirti Monastery, located in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet, has been a hot bed of anti-occupation protests, including the recent self-immolation of the monk Lobsang Gyatso, 19, on 13 February, which spurred additional security measures around Ngaba county. Rigzin Dorjee, 19, former monk of Kirti Monastery, also self-immolated on February 8.

Ngaba County, likewise, has accounted for a great number of the twenty-three self-immolations that have occurred since 2009.

Since the wave of self-immolations began in 2009, a great number of monks have allegedly disappeared from Kirti Monastery, while others have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms on vague charges of "subversion."

Shortly after the immolation of Lobsang Gyatso, a Guardian reporter who snuck into the restricted areas of Ngaba County suggested that the area was reminiscent of conflict zones in Iraq and Northern Ireland, and that weapons that the Chinese Security Forces employed were reminiscent of "medieval" weapons.

The recent outbreak of protests and violence in Tibet has spurred the Chinese government to explore new means by which to subvert the Tibetan cultural identity.

Zhu Weiqun, vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party and China's point man for Tibet, has suggested that providing Tibetans a separate legal identity may be the root cause of the unrest.

Zhu has implored the the two houses of Chinese parliament - the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - to review laws concerning Tibetan identity in legal documents during their upcoming sessions in March.

Zhu continued by saying that such laws that identify Tibetans as separate from Chinese can only serve to erode Tibetans' sense of Chinese nationalism and national cohesion.

"The best way to achieve national cohesion is to stop giving them a separate status as an ethnic minority on identity cards, to stop allowing them to use ethnic labels in for their schools and autonomous regions, and to stop giving them special privileges reserved for minorities." Zhu added.

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