TIBET AWARENESS – TIBET BURNING
I want to share with my readers an article titled “TIBET BURNS AS THE WORLD WATCHES” authored by Meg Kneafsey published by Palatinate.
I describe myself as host of ‘Living Tibetan Spirits’ and I promote Tibet Awareness. To understand the ‘Great Problem of Tibet’, people have to know Tibet as a Land, and Tibetans as People of that Land.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE. ESTABLISHMENT 22
TIBET BURNS AS THE WORLD WATCHES
Palatinate Online » Article » Tibet burns as the world watches 5 October 2015
By MEG KNEAFSEY
On the 27th August 2015, Tashi Kyi – a Tibetan mother of four in her mid-fifties – set herself on fire in protest of China’s policies on demolition and relocation of housing. Tashi was described
as a “generous Buddhist” who was “devoted to her family”. Yet her protest was
only part of a larger resistance against Chinese control of Tibet, a plight that appears forgotten by the international media.
Since 2009, there have been 138 reported
cases of self-immolations in Tibet. Despite that, the 2008 Tibetan protests of
Chinese rule in the area resulted in limited international attention and over 80 heads of states still attended the 2008 Beijing
Olympic Opening Ceremony, despite calls for a boycott. Tibetans have subsequently begun to resort to more extreme methods of gaining attention.
By burning themselves alive, these Tibetans – often Buddhist monks and nuns, although many are teenagers – hope to attract international recognition. They are fighting against what the Dalai Lama has described
as “cultural genocide” by Chinese occupants. The area formally known as ‘Tibetan Autonomous Region’ has been incorporated into the People’s Republic of China since 1950.
Whilst there are allegations of torture, for many it is the cultural and religious oppression that has truly affected Tibetans’ lives and spurred their
drastic attempts of resistance. Free Tibet suggests that China has closed 99% of Tibetan monasteries, jailed thousands of monks and banned images of the Dalai
Lama. Within schools, students are supposedly taught in Chinese and it is argued that many young people are losing the Tibetan ‘way of life’. While China has referred
to the protesters as “terrorists”, human rights groups and the Free Tibet movement claim that there are considerable human rights violations throughout the area that legitimize their resistance. There is evidence of political, religious, and cultural oppression, as well as ethnic discrimination and environmental damage. There is little surprise, therefore, that in 2014 US think tank Freedom House named Tibet among the 12
worst countries in the world on the scale of the denial of freedom.
of the situation are still disputed on both sides, with vocal resistance groups
existing only outside Tibet itself. It is claimed that since Chinese occupation, over one million Tibetans have died.
After an unsuccessful uprising in 1959 – the first of four major uprisings over the course of Chinese control – the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamsala, India. However, many Tibetans see the Dalai Lama as not only their spiritual leader but true political leader.
The reasons for China’s occupation are widely disputed. Independence groups argue that the allure of
Tibet’s natural resources, such as its large fresh water supply and abundance of oil and natural gases, brought in Chinese troops. Conversely, there is historical evidence of Chinese control of Tibet as far back as the 13th century, allowing China to make the argument that they are simply ‘reclaiming’ their right in the 1950s.
China also argues that there has been a positive impact on Tibetans’ lives due to Chinese control such as longer lifespans and a higher number of children in school. Furthermore, China maintains that Tibet is internally autonomous due to ethnic-Tibetan, Losang Jamcan, ruling as chairman of the region. The arguments surrounding Tibetan independence are long and complex. However, it is the lack of international dialogue and awareness of the situation that is alarming. Perhaps as the issue does not affect those outside Tibet, it is not
deemed important enough for international discussion. Yet it is clear that there are a large number of individuals resorting to drastic actions. Surely this warrants the belief that there is still a conflict of interest? It is now up to the international community to judge for themselves which side they are on.
Photograph: Free Tibet Protest, Luca Sartoni via Flickr
Issue 774 – Indigo