By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 24 September 2015
A member of the Jonang tradition attempted a self-immolation protest against the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile’s failure to address their demand for recognition of Jonang as a separate sect.
Sources said that on Tuesday a 38-year-old monk had brought petrol to light himself on fire outside the exile Parliament in protest against their failure to address the demands of the followers of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The monk’s self-immolation attempt was thwarted by other members after they had been alerted by the staff members of the Department of Security of the Central Tibetan Administration.
The monk had submitted a letter to the Security Department writing about the reasons for his self-immolation.
Tsewang Gyaltso, the President of the Jonang Well-Being Association in India, confirmed the monk’s attempt and the letter he had submitted.
“The monk was trying to set himself on fire at around 5pm on Tuesday. We were informed by the staff members of the Security Department.”
“We then found the monk and stopped him from setting himself on fire.”
The followers of Jonang tradition are demanding recognition of Jonang as a separate sect like the other four sects of Tibetan Buddhism — Nyingma, Kyagu, Sakya and Gelug.
The four sects and the native Tibetan Bon tradition are officially recognised, and they enjoy various rights including two seats each in the exile Parliament.
Other demands of the followers of Jonang include allotment of equal seats like the other sects in various religious and political meetings, that schools be taught about the background of Jonang as is done with the other sects, and that the Parliament amend the Charter of the Tibetans-in-exile to provide representations for Jonang also.
On Thursday, as the hunger strike protest by nine members entered its seventh day outside the on-going last session of the 15th Parliament, the Speaker of the Parliament convened a discussion session to address the demands of the protesters.
Sources told Tibet Sun that the members of the parliament have agreed to support four of the seven demands — allot same number of seats during Special political meetings, allot same number of seats during religious meetings, teach about Jonang in Schools, and equal seats in the Tibetan Buddhist scholars committee.
The official announcement of the acceptance by the parliament will be made tomorrow (Friday) morning. Thereafter, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and Speaker Penpa Tsering are likely request the hunger strikers to stop their protest.
Tsewang Gyaltso said that they may stop the hunger strike for the time being as they have been advised by the secretaries of office of the Dalai Lama that the Parliament may discuss their issue and find a solution for them.
“We also got a message from our spiritual leader Tulku Jigme Dorje in Dzamthang [in eastern Tibet] to stop the hunger strike,” Gyaltso says.
“But until our demands are fulfilled, we will not remain quiet.”