Myopic Human Rights Watch Needs Test On Tibet

What the *** is it about Human Rights Watch in its reports on Tibet?

“Self-immolation is an act of complete desperation to bring attention to the plight of Tibetans. Instead of stepping up repression and driving people to believe there is no hope of change, Beijing needs to take steps to respond to Tibetans’ grievances.” Brad Adams, HRW Asia director (China: Tibetan Immolations, Security Measures Escalate, November 29, 2012)

Let’s break this down and expose it for the BS it truly is! Firstly, Tibetans in occupied Tibet do not protest or self-immolate for ‘grievances‘,  they are resisting an illegal Chinese occupation, which is eroding Tibetan cultural identity! Tibetans do not soak themselves in gasoline and offer their lives in fiery sacrifice to seek moderation of Chinese policies imposed upon them, or to express dissatisfaction at various restrictions they suffer under China. They do so for two basic reasons: to demand the national independence of Tibet and in support for the Dalai Lama. This is not some internal annoyance of a ‘minority’ against the misguided policies of the central government, but a struggle for national liberation! Just where has the Asia Director of this organization been during the past year or so as Tibetans who self-immolated consistently issued the same demands for independence. As so forcefully demonstrated by 17 year-old Tibetan, Ms Sangay Dolma, who on November 25, 2012 gave her life for that very cause and left a moving and beautiful poem dedicated to those objectives!

Secondly, these actions are not some despairing last action of suicide, no lonely death brought on by an emotional or psychological breakdown, they are very determined political actions given intensely serious thought and calculated to expose and challenge China’s occupation of Tibet. That’s why they take place so often in important public locations, often outside Chinese police of ‘government’ buildings. This is political resistance a singular challenge to Chinese rule, and an affirmation of Tibetan national identity. This reality is easily noted by referring to the recorded actions, eye-witness testimony and personal statements associated with such self-immolations.

Thirdly, Tibetans who have been resisting China’s violent occupation for decades are not seeking merely‘changes’, this is not a people demonstrating to realize improvements to their social, economic or cultural situation, but a struggle for national identity and Tibetan independence.

Lastly, these actions are not carried out in the hope of obtaining a response from the Chinese Regime, or for that matter the callously indifferent international community, they are political protests against what is an illegal and genocidal occupation of Tibet. In that context they express a determined opposition to Chinese rule, remind that tyranny of a continuing and widespread opposition to China’s presence in Tibet and serve as a colossal source of inspiration and solidarity across Tibetans towns and villages throughout that blighted land.

So now comes the fun part of this post, the speculation as to why such an eminent, well-resourced human rights organization so badly misunderstands and misreports these Tibetan protests. Is it another example of the ‘career activist’ sitting in comfortable offices in NYC with no genuine knowledge or understanding of the Tibetan issue? Could it be folks there with egos the size of Alamo Square in SF? Who consider themselves so expert on the subject that they feel no need to go beyond their own clichéd and partial thinking? Perhaps there are darker forces at play withinits well financed offices? Could it be that influences from the State Department color its presentations on Tibet? Whatever the truth on this, by slanting its reports on Tibetan self-immolations in this fashion Human Rights Watch is misrepresenting the facts.


  1. Well said. I think self-immolations are often misrepresented as a selfish act. From what I understand, and believe, this is far from the truth. In times of China’s occupation of Tibet, self-immolating proves dedication, loyalty, and honorable regard to the Tibetan culture and HH.
    As discouraging as it is that the Human Rights Watch is providing a misleading statement regarding the distress in Tibet, would you agree that at least they are bring upon public awareness to Tibet?

    Thank you for your constant posts and informing the rest of us who support the freedom of Tibet.


    1. Human Rights Watch may well be attracting further exposure to Tibet, sadly in so doing they are seriously misinforming people on key aspects of the Tibetan struggle, such as the central objective of Tibetans who are protesting against China’s violent occupation of Tibet. Their highly misleading presentation of the self-immolations being an example, other equally important subjects receive no mention whatsoever, or worse are again infused with a color that has worrying similarities to China’s line on such topics! Meanwhile, a simple few minutes research on their website is recommended, type in ‘forced sterilizations in Tibet’ and see the result! Get back to us on your findings


  2. Brilliant analysis in precise terms. Thank you. Chinese political isolationism has been historically impervious to criticism. But on the ground, the Han hospital workers dealing with burn tissue in Amdo hospitals are clearly freaked, from the video evidence. They are witness to a demonstration of moral power on a mass scale akin to the Balinese who stabbed and killed themselves on the beach as colonial Dutch ships attempted a landing – and saw them turn tail, never to directly confront the populace (or so the story goes). The musket usually beats the knife, but not always, and not when there is unity of purpose. Freeing Occupied Tibet and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall — now there are two seemingly impossible social-political tasks to accomplish. Oh wait. There’s just one left.


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