BEIJING (TIP): Investigators have found that 15 Communist Party officials in Tibet joined underground Tibetan independence organizations, provided intelligence to the Dalai Lama and his supporters or participated in activities deemed harmful to China’s security, a party agency said on January 28.
The publicizing of party officials supporting Tibetan separatism was highly unusual and suggested continuing unrest in the Himalayan region, which has had a heavy security presence since a wave of riots and protests against Chinese rule in 2008. The involvement was uncovered last year during an investigation of a small group of party officials, according to a statement from the Communist Party Disciplinary Commission of Tibet posted on its website. Fifteen officials received unspecified punishment for violating party and political discipline, the commission said.
It was not immediately clear why the cases were announced this week. The commission’s statement gave no details of the groups that the party members joined, the intelligence they provided or other activities that would have harmed national security. Calls to party representatives in Tibet were not answered, and the discipline commission’s phone number was not publicly available.
Journalists’ access to Tibet is tightly restricted and all information from the region is extremely difficult to confirm. While details such as the name of the officials punished were not provided, it is likely they were ethnic Tibetans who traditionally practice a form of Tantric Buddhism of which the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader.
Ethnic minorities, including Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs from the neighboring Xinjiang region, make up about 6 percent of the Communist Party’s 86 million members. They are recruited to fill posts at various levels as a key component of the party’s united front policy, although the top party official in provinces and regions such as Tibet is always a member of China’s overwhelming majority Han ethnic group.