By Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay, Central Tibetan Administration, July 13, 2012
Excerpt from The Washington Post
An 18-year old monk, identified as Lobsang Tenzin, set himself alight in Bharkham, Tibet, on July 14, 2012
Since 2009, 43 Tibetans have set themselves on fire while shouting slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and crying for freedom for Tibetans. These people include monks, nuns, nomads and students. Two were mothers. All but 11 have died. Yet their actions and the issue of Tibet have not generated the commensurate attention or support. Instead, the Chinese government casts blame on these Tibetans and refuses to examine the root causes of their actions.
Despite repeated appeals by the central Tibetan administration, which is based in India, to refrain from such drastic actions, Tibetans persist in self-immolations. At the same time, we in the Tibetan administration recognize our sacred duty to make the protesters’ cries heard around the globe by all who believe in justice. Tibetans everywhere have offered prayers for those who have died.
The Communist Party of China has labeled these self-immolations terrorist acts. This is ludicrous. Complexities exist in Buddhist philosophy about whether harming oneself is violent or if the motivation for the act, rather than the act itself, determines its nature. What is absolutely clear, however, is that these protesters intended to avoid harming anyone other than themselves.
Of course, all Tibetans welcome statements of concern from the international community, such as the recent one from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking the Chinese to resume dialogue with Tibetans. But concrete action is needed to help stop the tragedy in Tibet. The time has come for the world to shut out the noise of China’s influence and to hear the Tibetan cries: that repression is unbearable and unacceptable. Voices in Tibet cry out to see their leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Exiled since 1959, His Holiness is accessible to millions of people around the world, but not to his own people inside Tibet.
Because we know that the democracies of the world recognize basic human rights and freedoms to be universal values, we ask the international community to intervene before our situation deteriorates even further. In its annual human rights dialogue with China this month, the State Department should urge the Chinese to relax restrictions in Tibet immediately and request fact-finding delegations to investigate the reasons for the tragically high number of self-immolations in Tibet.
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