NEW YORK, March 16 (UPI) -- A policy of stationing Chinese administrators in Tibetan monasteries is likely to make a tense situation worse, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch said the Chinese government placed "almost every monastery in Tibet" under its authority. The rights organization described the step as "unprecedented," noting monks were allowed to run the monasteries as long as they adhered to government regulations.
"Although the Chinese government has placed many restrictions on the practice of religion in Tibet, these new regulations represent an entirely new level of intervention by the state," Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement from New York.
"This measure, coupled with the increasing presence of government workers within monasteries, will surely exacerbate tensions in the region."
The Chinese government said the measure was meant to counter separatist ambitions in the region.
Activist group Free Tibet announced a 30-year-old monk self-immolated this week, the fifth to do so in protest of Chinese oppression in the region this month. He survived and monks took him to a monastery in Qinghai province.
"If the Chinese government is committed to reducing tensions in Tibetan areas, it should repeal these policies immediately," said Richardson.