Yesterday, a Tibetan mother died after her self-immolation in
protest of the Dalai Lama's exile and the lack of freedom in Tibet.
The number of self-immolators has risen to 45 in the past 1-1/2
While Chinese Olympic gold medals in London make headlines, far
away, on the Himalayan roof of the world, two more young Tibetans -
a mother and a monk - set themselves on fire in protest of Chinese
policies on Tibet, including the lack of return of the Dalai Lama,
the exiled spiritual leader.
The two "self-immolations" raise to 45 the number of Tibetans
setting themselves alight, most since March of 2011. The immolations
started with Buddhist monks and nuns who see themselves in an
increasingly desperate struggle for the ancient land and its people,
and who say their Tibetan identity and faith is being stamped out by
aggressive Chinese policies and actions.
Yet 13 of the self-immolations in Tibet this year suggest that
ordinary Tibetans are starting to torch themselves, and that the
cases appear to be spreading geographically and are less confined to
a few dissident monasteries.
"The self-immolations have now jumped a number of fences. There
are more of them and they are more diverse," says Steven Marshall, a
member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in
Washington, who had extensive experience in Tibet in the 1980s and
1990s. "We are seeing immolations in the lay community, not only
among monks and nuns where it started. It is also spreading into a
greater area, not just the [Tibet Autonomous Region], but Qinghai
and Gansu [provinces abutting the Tibet Autonomous Region]."
Yesterday, a mother of two, Dolkar Tso, from a farming family,
set herself alight at a monastery in Gansu Province, which abuts the
Tibetan Autonomous Region. She died from the flames. The
International Campaign for Tibet in London cited exile sources in a
statement saying she called out for the return of the Dalai Lama and
for freedom in Tibet, following a pattern in other cases.
On Monday, a young monk from the Kirti monastery, 21-year-old
Lobsang Tsultrim, set himself on fire in the region of Ngaba in
Sichuan Province. Exile reports say he was still alive when taken
away by a police car. Lobsang is the 27th monk from the Ngaba area
to self-immolate, and the eighth from the Kirti monastery. His act
took place on a street that is alternately being called "Martyrs
Road" or "Heroes Road."
Dalai Lama opposed self-immolation
While the Dalai Lama has consistently opposed self-immolations as
a violation on the sacredness of life, Tibetans are continuing to do
it in an act seen as indicative of the depth of feeling and
desperation. Self-immolations are new and not part of any previous
Tibetan protest tradition.
Tibetan Buddhist leaders have described the mood inside Tibet as
a life and death struggle for the future of their faith and
identity, and say that time is running out.
"They are calling for Dalai Lama's return because they are in
this very serious moment, very serious, in which the Tibetan nation,
identity, culture, the spiritual tradition, are all being closed
down by Chinese aggression," says Kate Saunders, the spokeswoman for
International Campaign for Tibet in London. …