Hitting out at the Dalai Lama, China on Wednesday branded him as the "hatchet man of anti-China forces" for allegedly instigating the Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns to commit suicide and claimed that some of those who immolated themselves had criminal records.
"Some of the suicides are committed by clerics returning to lay life, and they all have criminal records or suspicious activities. They have a very bad reputation in society," Wu Zegang, chief of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang prefecture of southwest China's Sichuan province, said.
The situation in some of the Tibetan areas following 25 self-immolation attempts in the recent times has figured high on the agenda of China's legislature, the National People's Congress, whose annual session began on Monday.
The Dalai was "the hatchet man of anti-China forces in the world, the ringleader of the conspiracy of 'Free Tibet', the ultimate agitator of the chaos of Tibet and Tibetan
Buddhism and the utmost impediment to the normal development of Tibetan Buddhism," Li Changping, a member of the standing committee of the Sichuan Committee of the Party, said.
The latest broadside against the Dalai came as three more immolations were reported from Tibetan-inhabited areas.
Unlike the previous 22 attempts of self immolations, which were carried out by monks and nuns, the three who committed suicide were civilians, including a mother of four who died in Aba prefecture in Sichuan province.
A teenager also committed suicide in Aba on Monday.
Besides, Tsering Kyi, a 20-year-old student of Maqu County Tibetan Middle School in Gansu province set herself on fire last Saturday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
She set herself ablaze at the Tashi Yamdan vegetable market on Huanghe Road in Maqu county after buying gasoline from nearby stores.
The report claimed that she was confirmed to have sustained a head injury prior to setting herself on fire. However, doctors said she was burnt to death.
The new cases of suicide took place as the National People's Congress began its annual session.
The session is significant this year as the top leadership of the ruling Communist Party of China and the government, including President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, are set to retire.
Wu said that police investigations into the suicide attempts in Tibetan-inhabited areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu in recent months, found that victims were "used by separatists to create chaos."
Similarities found in self-immolations in China's Tibetan-populated regions have pointed to behind-the-scenes orchestration with a transparent political motive, he claimed.
One outstanding similarity, he said, was that most of the self-immolators had shouted separatist slogans like "Free Tibet" while setting themselves on fire.
"Moreover, photos revealing the daily lives of most of the self-immolators had been sent in advance to separatist forces abroad. These photos, contrasted by pictures depicting the self-immolation sites, were immediately dispersed by separatist forces to play up the situation," Wu said during a panel discussion by a delegation from Sichuan.
"To encourage self-immolations, they even offer a price of compensation for the dead. All these prove that self-immolations are pre-mediated political moves," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
During a separate panel discussion by the Tibet delegation, Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet autonomous region, said self-immolations had take place in surrounding areas but no such attempt was reported in Tibet.
He hoped that the self immolations would stop.
"We hope no more people set themselves on fire... There are sufficient ways for people to express their views. There's no need to take such a radical step," he said.
Liu Qibao, the provincial CPC chief of Sichuan, admitted that self-immolations were a problem in Sichuan, adding that efforts had been made to protect the culture of ethnic Tibetans.