BEIJING, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A Chinese scholar challenged a report issued last week by Human Rights Watch that was critical of Beijing's policies regarding Tibetans.
Human Rights Watch last week called on Beijing to release two Tibetans being held on charges of "intentional homicide" stemming from the self-immolation of other Tibetans. Sophie Richardson, director of Chinese programs at Human Rights Watch, said the charges are "utterly without credibility."
Zhang Yun, a scholar at the China Tibetology Research Center, was quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency as saying the charges were without merit.
"China-related parts in the report turn a blind eye to facts, make indiscreet comments on the situation in Tibet, speak highly of crimes in Tibetan areas and foment discord between the central government and Tibetan people," he states.
Human Rights Watch last year said social benefits were suspended in communities where self-immolations have occurred and rewards were offered by Chinese authorities for information on those suspected of assisting Tibetan protesters.
Beijing has blamed Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for working to "split China under the guise of religion."
"The ongoing prosecution of people linked with self-immolation appears to be about stifling dissent and laying blame on others for this tragedy," said Richardson.