The Tibetan government-in-exile has sharply criticized the Chinese government's crackdown on those who allegedly "incite self-immolations," arguing that innocent people will likely be targeted.
State media reported this week that a monk and his nephew were detained for inciting eight Tibetan protests in the Kirti monastery in Aba, in China's southwest Sichuan province.
Police said the monk encouraged the protests "on the instructions of the Dalai Lama and his followers," a charge that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has repeatedly denied.
It is the latest attempt by Beijing to stop the wave of nearly 100 self-immolations against Chinese rule that have taken place since 2009.
In October, VOA reported that Chinese authorities offered large cash rewards for information on those who plan or incite self-immolations.
Lobsang Chodak, the media coordinator at the Dharamsala-India-based government-in-exile, said in an interveiw with VOA that he "absolutely" believes that innocent people will be targeted for alleged involvement in self-immolations, which he says are carried out by individuals, not groups.
"This is ridiculous," he said. "The Chinese government should address the root cause of the problem, not create problems for innocent Tibetans. They have nothing to do with those Tibetans who are self-immolating. They are doing it on their own."
Chodak said charges such as those against the monk and his nephew are not justified, and that any measures that further "stifle the voice of the Tibetan people" will only make the situation more desperate.
"These are absolutely baseless charges," said Chodak. "Instead of addressing the grievances, they are resorting to a blame game, and we believe these repressive measures will further increase the resentment of the Tibetan people. This will not solve the tragic situation in Tibet.
Chodak said the exiled Central Tibetan Administration has "repeatedly urged" Tibetans not to take "drastic actions." But he says in spite of this, the self-immolations persist.
A Tuesday editorial in the Communist Party's People's Daily again blamed the protests on the "Dalai Lama clique," which it said "embodies the special characteristics of an 'evil cult.'"
Beijing, which views Tibet as a non-negotiable part of its territory, accuses the exiled Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations to promote Tibetan separatism. The Dalai Lama has often said he is not pushing for Tibetan independence, but for greater autonomy.