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Armed Policemen in Ngaba, following Phuntsog self-immolation in 2011
Armed Policemen in Ngaba, following Phuntsog self-immolation in 2011

The Chinese government has responded to the protests with a surge in activity by security forces, a propaganda campaign against the protesters and punishments for protester’s families and communities. Self-immolators who survived their protests have been detained and the whereabouts and condition of many of them is still unknown.

Severe punishments are handed out to those accused of assisting or encouraging the protesters or sharing information abroad. Frequently protesters' bodies are cremated by security forces to prevent families carrying out traditional funeral ceremonies. Local communities are threatened with punishment for holding prayer services or offering support to protesters' families.

China has described the protests as “violent behaviour whose aim is to create an atmosphere of terror” and accused the Dalai Lama of instigating the protests. The Dalai Lama has not called for an end to the protests but has expressed his "sadness" over them and urged the Chinese authorities to "investigate what is the cause of this symptom, of these events".