The tragic wave of self-immolations by Tibetans has claimed forty two lives since 2009, clearly demonstrating that the Tibetans are no longer able to bear the draconian Chinese rule in their homeland.
ON THE WEB, 24 June 2012
Up in flames
Up in flames
We have slowly gone
We have slowly gone
Can we pour some water on?
With the latest self-immolation reports coming out from Tibet of two young and brave Tibetan youth, both in their early 20s, the number of self immolations has reached a whopping 42. This certainly isn’t something to ignore. But it is unfortunate for the Tibetans that despite their painful sacrifices, the global community, and particularly the United Nations, are stepping back from coming out practically to help the Tibetan folks in trouble. This insensitivity on the part of the United Nations and other influential countries is sad and shameful, because they are cowardly keeping mum for the fear of antagonising China!
The global silence over the continuing Tibetan self-immolation tragedy stems from the fact that any interferences in the “China’s Tibet” issue would invite wrath from the Chinese side, that eventually would cost them their potential big fat business deals with China. This is a sad state of affairs for the Tibetans, especially at a time when they need international support the most. The “China rising” image in the business world is giving a hard time for potential Tibet supporters with the “to be or not to be” question in their collective minds. Therefore, apart from occasional lip service, the global community is still not ready to question China upfront on the rights of Tibetans. Meanwhile, Tibetans are left with no other choice but to fend for themselves, on their own.
It is pity that after decades of Chinese rule in Tibet, today Tibetans inside Tibet are still denied their basic rights to live in their own country freely, and instead they are subjected to varied human right abuses such as surprise raids in their homes and monasteries, forceful closure of the Tibetan medium schools run by local Tibetans, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, 24-hour surveillance, patriotic re-education, dislocation of nomads from their ancestral land, mass unemployment of Tibetan youth, forcing of Tibetan girls to prostitution and children to the streets to beg for livelihood, and more. This itself refutes the Chinese claim that by conquering Tibet they “liberated the atavistic, old-fashioned, superstitious Tibetans from poverty to modernisation.”
If Tibetans are so happy today, as China claims, then why would they resort to giving up their lives by immolating themselves? Not just one, two, or three. Now 42! The self-immolations are continuing non-stop, without respite. And, all these brave souls have one demand in common: “Freedom for Tibetans and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.” The Communist regime in Tibet is so tenacious and barbaric that Tibetans are left with only one choice to make their demands heard: setting fire to themselves. The PLA forces tolerate no means of peaceful protest, always ready to hunt down and apply deadly punishments, even for acts as minor as uttering the words “Long live Dalai Lama”, or raising the Tibetan flag.
Some people may feel these self-immolations are just too much and are just mindless acts of desperation. But I would contend that these are not just acts of desperation, born out of frustration, born out of helplessness — they are acts born out of love for freedom, acts born out of sense of sacrifice for their fellow countrymen, acts born out of a sincerely non-violent attitude. These are the noble acts — for freedom and dignity.
This was rightly said by U.S. Under-secretary of State Maria Otero in a recent interview with VOA: “Clearly these self-immolations are not only desperate acts, but desperate acts born of the frustration and the despair that people feel as they see the increased violations of their human rights, and the increased restrictions imposed on Buddhist monasteries.”
Every sacrifice made by each of the 42 Tibetans so far is a clear message to the world that Tibet needs their help now as much as they needed them before. Despite the media black-out in Tibet, they try to echo their cries through these extreme yet noble acts. Leaving all the historical differences behind, Tibetans and their leaders are still ready to talk for a better tomorrow with China. Tibetans are not seeking independence but freedom. Tibetans are not using guns and bombs to make their demands heard. Tibetans are understandably against their communist rulers, but do respect and love Chinese people. Tibetans are simple, peaceful, sympathetic, friendly, and trustworthy.
So, won’t you help these beautiful folks when they are up in flames? Can we pour some water on? Otherwise — Tibet is going to burn again, and again!
About the author
The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous, and therefore the piece has been published under a pseudonym.