As Chinese rule inside occupied Tibet continues to eradicate Tibetan cultural and national identity reports have emerged this week of two more self-immolations. One took place in Eastern Tibet’s Kyegudo area of Kham region and Nagba, Amdo. Details have not been definitively confirmed, but the men involved were named as Tsering Samdup and 80 year-old Tashi Phunstok, who is said to have died as a result of the injuries.
That China’s regime is guilty of cultural genocide against the Tibetan people is known the world over, and despite the propaganda gloss; which claims Tibet was ‘liberated’ and that since then Tibetans have enjoyed economic and social progress, people are not fooled by such disinformation.
What’s perhaps not realized though is the fear which China’s tyranny exerts upon Tibetans, it has traumatized an entire people, the psychological damage arising from years of abuse, oppression and military occupation has terrorized Tibetans. They feel asphyxiated and under an ever present condition of anxiety, for the consequences of a stray word or action are grim indeed!
There’s much evidence to support this, including studies on the rise of alcohol abuse within Tibet (the availability of cheap alcohol is but one toxic consequence of Chinese rule) and also the documented testimony of Tibetans who have reported on the harrowing conditions they face.
If you want an insight into the terror which has been instilled into Tibetans by China’s regime then look no further than the disturbing videos which are available online of self-immolations against Chinese rule. They are of course extremely unsettling, yet apart from the sacrifice and harrowing nature of protest, there’s something equally worrying, hidden in plain sight. This can be seen in the video below (advisory-graphic content) which shows a 63 year-old Tibetan, named as the Venerable Tengha, who self-immolated November 26 2017 in Kardze, Kham region of eastern Tibet, in protest against China’s vicious and illegal occupation of Tibet.
It’s almost impossible not to find your attention fixed on the actions of that courageous Tibetan as he rolls in flames across the ground, but if you can refocus onto the Tibetans standing within feet of this event. Ask yourself why is it that not one of them runs to the aid of their compatriot? You may also question why it is that a people whose main religion is Buddhism appear to be bereft of any sense of compassion as he suffers before their eyes? Just what is it that seems to holding them there like silent witnesses? Where is the basic human nature to intervene?
What you are seeing here is of course not an absence of humanity, or a desire to help someone in such a plight, nor indeed is there any lack of compassion within Tibetans, the reason is simply one of fear! Such is the machinery of terror imposed upon people in Tibet that they repress a natural instinct to bring assistance, and are internally conflicted between acting in accordance with their Buddhist culture of compassion and the dark consequences of associating themselves with the self-immolation protestor.
Can you begin to imagine what it must be like to find yourself repressing your values, moral standards and basic humanity for fear of being arrested and tortured?
A Tibetan schoolgirl self-immolated December 9 in Rebkong, Amdo Region of East Tibet, protesting against China’s illegal and brutal occupation of Tibet, and in support of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Ms. Bhenchen Kyi, aged 17, set herself on fire in Dokarmo region of Tsekhog, around 8 pm (local Tibetan time).she died following her action. More HERE
Today the UN High Commissioner’s office released a statement on the current situation in occupied Tibet, before we expose and correct some of the comments made by Ms Pillay’s office, we ask you to try the following exercise. Using a search engine of your choice try the following inquiry: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay+China+ forced sterilizations. What results? Anything at all? Strange don’t you think that the United Nation’s senior human rights officer seems to have remained deathly silent on what is clearly a major violation of human rights! Of course could be we overlooked some link that reveals a blistering condemnation of China’s birth-control atrocities, if so do let us know, as we would be most interested to see such a challenge from Navi Pillay.
However we digress, back to her statement on Tibetan self-immolations, calling on China to allow for independent human rights monitors to visit Tibet, and the release of Tibetans currently jailed, while no doubt greatly welcomed by Tibetans, seeking some crumb of support from the UN, it contains some troubling notions, which we are most happy to correct.
Firstly Ms Pillay you need to understand one important fact regarding where these self-immolations are taking place, which your spokesperson Rupert Colville wrongly stated as occurring beyond Tibet
“We don’t see any progress in dealing with the underlying problems facing Tibetans both in Tibet and in other areas, because quite a few of the self-immolations have been in Tibetan areas outside Tibet itself “.
The fact is that ‘Tibet’ is not just the so-called ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (a bogus claim and political construct imposed following China’s invasion of Tibetan territory in 1950) but an illegally occupied nation comprised of three regions, U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, self-immolations are happening in all of those areas. The latter two in particular have seen the highest incidence of such protests. So for the record Tibetans self-immolate not in ‘Gansu’ or ‘Sichuan’.
We move now to another serious misconception expressed by the UN High Commissioner, who seems to believe that Tibetans are sacrificing themselves in such a harrowing manner to express a series, of what she described as “long held grievances”. Can Ms Pillay truly be unaware of the real motivation that has fuelled Tibetan resistance to China’s occupation for over six decades? The protests, collective and individual, along with a number of major uprisings have not been to assert improved social or economic rights or issue complaints against various policies but to demand the national freedom of Tibet, the return of the Dalai Lama and in support of Tibet’s Buddhist-based culture. As her office knows Tibetans face cultural genocide, assimilation,aggressive colonization and a widespread oppression imposed by an occupying military of over 300, 000 Chinese personnel. The ongoing protests seek an end to that tyranny and are not ‘grievances’ but a legitimate struggle for Tibetan national identity and independence.Perhaps Ms Pillay would care to reflect upon her Indian roots and ask herself if India’s struggle for independence was in fact merely ‘long term grievances’? If only Imperial Britain had exercised more enlightened policies, to address the ‘grievances’ of India’s people then presumably the British would be ruling still over a grateful Indian population!I
We are also not pleased by the High Commissioner urging religious and other leaders to exert an influence to dissuade Tibetans from self-immolating, she should realize that an oppressed and terrorized people, so long denied their rightful independence, have every right to determine the nature and course of their struggle, no matter how traumatizing it may be to witness from the comfort of an office in Geneva. Would she prefer Tibetans remain in their homes subdued, obedient slaves under China’s rule, avoiding protests for fear of injury or loss of life? Would she have advised her fellow South Africans not to demonstrate too violently against Apartheid, called upon the people of Soweto not to vigorously oppose the racist oppression? While Navi Pillay is phoning religious leaders to call for an end to Tibetan self-immolations maybe she would care to ask them to issue also a public statement demanding an end to China’s forcible sterilization of women?!
With two more Tibetans self-immolating this week we are again seeing a despairing response from within some sections of the exiled Tibetan community, people are asking in what way are such sacrifices securing either the attention of a largely indifferent world, or advancing the cause of Tibet’s independence struggle. These are entirely understandable reactions to what are painfully distressing events, yet in a key sense they are the wrong questions, as they are based upon an erroneous understanding that these actions seek a global response, an international condemnation to China’s tyrannical occupation of Tibet. Sure, it would be extremely welcome to see a concerted and forceful response from the international community to the horrors of China’s human rights atrocities against Tibetans. Yet the political and economic interests of nations ensures a shameful appeasement of China, faces turning away from the decades of suffering endured by Tibet, relieved only by platitudes and hand-wringing. Recall the assurances of the United Nations to the Tibetan hunger-strikers earlier this year? In which, fearful of the prospect of Tibetans starving to death on its New York doorsteps, the UN promised a detailed and urgent investigation into China’s actions in Tibet. Thus far silence, evasion and inaction has followed. So the fiery sacrifices of these Tibetans, even were they seeking international support for Tibet, would; due to the marble-heart of realpolitik, remain ignored or at best offered disingenuous words of concern, measured so as not to offend China.
It is fatuous to even consider that these actions are in themselves trying to secure independence for Tibetans, which inevitably invites the questions, what is the purpose of such sacrifice and who is the intended audience? Perhaps these self-immolations are more accurately understood as expressions of resistance, in which it is the action itself that is the protest, a declaration of Tibetan independence and loyalty to the Dalai Lama. They also defy China’s occupation and are a dramatic reminder that the spirit for Tibet’s national freedom and identity remains undiminished. The sight of Tibetans engulfed in flame, holding aloft the symbol of Tibet’s independence must also have an incredible impact upon the local Tibetan community where they occur, no doubt generating sadness and anxiety but also reinforcing a sense of solidarity, national identity and encouraging a determination to oppose China’s occupation.
They are after all heroes, but the political nature and objectives of their protests sits uneasily with the current position of the Tibetan Administration, keen to avoid mention of Tibet’s independence and desperately trying to assure China that it seeks only improved autonomy under Chinese rule. Aware though of the profound support and emotion within the Tibetan Diaspora towards those who self-immolate, it has to be seen to show respect and honor such sacrifice. Yet it does so by avoiding any mention of the political demands made by such Tibetans and chooses to represent their actions as a response to China’s policies, or as the only, desperate, means of protest due to the intensity of China’s suppression of Tibetans. While there maybe a shadow of truth in that for the most part this is a political and cynical version of events, designed to dilute, evade and ignore the central objective common to the majority of such protest, Tibetan independence.
Let us journey to an alternative landscape for a moment, a flight of fancy in which these Tibetans are embraced as they should be by their exiled Administration, as inspiring martyrs to Tibet’s true cause, a reminder to Tibetans everywhere that the only solution that guarantees genuine protection and respect of Tibet’s culture and national identity is the restoration of its independence. Imagine the effect upon the exiled Tibetan community if their sacrifice was seen, not only in terms of tragedy and pain, but as selfless inspiration and courage. Would such a re-interpretation be followed by questions as to why they are offering their lives to asserts Tibet’s rightful national independence yet in exile their Administration is surrendering Tibetan nationhood in exchange for Chinese rule?
These individuals are sending an immensely powerful message, not to the corrupted offices of the UN or Washington DC, but to fellow Tibetans, is their overtly political sacrifice being understood or is it getting lost in the emotional response, the massed prayers and despair and frustration felt among exiled Tibetans? It has been noted by others that the best way to respect the sacrifices made by these Tibetan martyrs is to actively support the cause they gave their lives for, that means advocating, protesting for Tibetan independence. Yet even as the harrowing images of self-immolation emerge from Tibet, and reports document such protests demanding Tibet’s national freedom, the momentum to promote the policy which would accept Chinese rule with limited and cosmetic improvements in autonomy goes on regardless, trampling over the charred remains of Tibet’s heroes.
Image: courtesy of @tibettruth
Double Click Image For Larger View
With today’s report that two more Tibetans have self-immolated in Ngaba, Amdo Region of East Tibet the reported total now stands at 35, these martyrs sacrificed themselves for Tibet’s national freedom, independence, return of the Dalai Lama and human/religious rights. Please be aware of media reports on this latest case, as they feature China’s lies on Tibet, don’t share/spread such propaganda, use only reliable sources on Tibet, such as Phayul, Dossier Tibet, Tibet Telegraph, Tibetan Review or Tibetan Center For Human Rights and Democracy.