A young Tibetan Buddhist monk set himself on fire in the Sichuan province of China on Tuesday, AFP reports. The teenage monk quickly set himself on fire as he walked towards a central government office. He is reported to have shouted slogans that no one could understand as he walked down the street. He quickly succumbed to the flames. His name was Lobsang Luzin, and he is one of 44 other monks who have self-immolated in China over the last three years in protest to the Chinese government’s control of Tibet.
Once news reached officials regarding the self-immolation, Chinese police forces started to make their way to the monastery in the area, but Tibetans successfully blocked a bridge to slow down their approach. The exiled Tibetan government fears that there will be a standoff between the two groups as tension rises.
China has a long history of quickly squelching any Tibetan rebellion to Chinese rule. Officials claim that lives have improved in Tibet due to Chinese rule, and that Tibetans enjoy complete religious freedom. Tibetans argue that they have been bereft of their true leader, the Dalai Lama, and that the Chinese government limits the movements and freedoms of Tibetan Buddhists.
A rash of large uprisings occurred in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa in 2008, which caused Chinese officials to buckle down on the large city. Now it is virtually impossible for anyone to stage protests within the city walls. Two monks were successful at staging a self-immolation protest in late May of this year. The two monks self-immolated in front of a sacred temple but they were quickly dragged out of sight by security forces and the area was cleared of all evidence within an hour.
News of that protest still spread quickly, although officials only planned to buckle down on residents more thoroughly in the weeks that followed the protest. Many Chinese officials believe that self-immolations, such as Lobsang Lozin’s, are a form of terrorist attacks staged by the Dalai Lama, who has kept notoriously quiet on the subject of these protests.
A CNN report notes that many of the people that self-immolate in protest are often young or even teenagers, suggesting that a new generation of activists are tired of the Chinese government and do not want to maintain the same peaceful tactics employed by the Dalai Lama in the past.
Sadly, the extreme self-sacrifice of these protests are often quickly covered over by Chinese officials, who have not responded to these demonstrations with any sign of reform or change in political stance. In fact, officials are hoping to increase tourism to Lhasa in the coming months by investing over $4 billion into the area, AFP reports.
Photo Credit: B_cool