Tibetan Writer Calls for End to Self-Immolations


Written by Alexa Olesen, contributions from Isolda Morillo

BEIJING (AP) Tibetans including a prominent writer under virtual house arrest in Beijing are pleading for an end to self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule, saying self-destructive measures do nothing for the cause of Tibetan rights.

Poet Tsering Woeser said in online appeal posted Thursday that she is “grief-stricken” by the more than two dozen people who have set themselves on fire over the past year. She called on influential Tibetans, including monks and intellectuals, to help end the deadly form of protest.

China has sought to portray the wave of immolations including three since Saturday as the result of outside orchestration rather than what activists say is local anguish over the government’s suppression of Tibetan religion and culture. Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan province.

This is a sensitive time for Tibet, and for all of China. China’s annual legislative session, a time when security is tightened across the country, began this week. March is also when Tibetans mark significant anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful 1959 revolt that caused the Dalai Lama to flee, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 2008.

In Beijing on Friday, President Hu Jintao met with Tibetan delegates to the national legislature and urged them to maintain stability, spread the message of ethnic unity and safeguard the unity of the motherland, the official Xinhua News Agency said. He did not mention the self-immolation protests.

In recent weeks, Woeser has posted on her blog photos and information about self-immolations, as well as the tightening of security in Tibetan areas. Her willingness to openly confront authorities makes her stand out among Tibetans.

For more than a week, the writer’s home has been guarded by security agents who say she must ask permission to go anywhere. They prevented her from receiving a cultural award last week at the Dutch ambassador’s residence in Beijing.

Woeser signed the appeal against self-immolation with Gade Tsering, another China-based Tibetan poet, and Arjia Lobsang Tupten, an exiled Tibetan Buddhist teacher based in the United States.

“Tibetans must cherish life and live with resilience. Regardless of the magnitude of oppression, our life is important, and we have to cherish it,” they said.

Their statement said Tibetans can challenge oppression only by staying alive.

“Staying alive allows us to gather the strength as drops of water to form a great ocean,” it said. “It depends on thousands and more living Tibetans to pass on our nation’s spirit and blood!”

The letter also asks “monks, the elderly, intellectuals, officials, and the masses” to help prevent more immolations.

China blames supporters of exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for encouraging the self-immolations.

The Dalai Lama has praised the courage of those who engage in self-immolation and has attributed the protests to what he calls China’s “cultural genocide” in Tibet. He also says he does not encourage the protests, noting that they could invite an even harsher crackdown.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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AP Photo of Tibetan delegates at a province delegation meeting by Andy Wong


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Interesting, thanks.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago


Dorothy P.
Dorothy P6 years ago

There are better and safer ways to make a point than this. Very sad for Tibet, Lord willing, one day, they will gain their independence.

Dianna B.
D B6 years ago

Did the Dalai Lama really praise the actions of these self-immolaters? It is hard for me to believe. Especially when he decided to leave the country when he knew if he stayed, it would mean certain death. The reason he gave was that he could continue to spread his messages in the free world. I definitely agree with Lydia P. that a live activist is better than a dead martyr.

Berny P.
berny p6 years ago

That is so heart-wrenching for people to be so oppressed that self-immolation feels like a worthy sacrifice-
I am glad people are being encouraged to find other ways to make themselves heard.

IF you want to help them....complain to care 2 for allowing free cheap fake chinese goods on this site..many free advert is allowed on any of care 2 site.

I flag them every time hoping to make a difference, stop buying chinese goods and they will not have your money !!

Lauren B.
Lauren B6 years ago

Agreed! Self immolation means the world and Tibet loses good people who might be able to help if they lived out their lives. And does China care how many Tibetan activists die? Too sad.

leslie c.
leslie c6 years ago

I just wanted to add that while I believe the world community
should stand up to China on Tibet's behalf my personal belief
is that this should be done in a non-violent way. I don't believe
that violence begets anything more than more violence. It is
not the correct way that we as human beings should behave.
Violence is NEVER the answer or the way to teach another
that behaves in this way to respond in the same manner. The only
way to end violence and to end empirical invasion & takeover
of other countries is to teach non-violence, kindness & empathy.
We are all sentient beings that go through life suffering. Suffering
should be met with empathy. Not creating additional suffering.

leslie c.
leslie c6 years ago

I have long been an activist on behalf of Tibetan right to self-rule
and & the return of the Dali Lama to an independent Tibet. While
the self-immolation protests have broken my heart & grieved me to
no end, one has to understand the tenets of Buddhism to understand
self-immolation. The response that "All life is sacred" creates a double
edged sword that to outsiders & non-practicing (because of the Chinese
ban on religion) alike that is understandably confusing. I've been studying
Mahayana Buddhism for 30 yrs. & whether or not to practice self-immolation,
the most extreme sacrifice a Buddhist can make, is a confusing concept to me.
There are two ways of looking at this issue that can be argued both ways
are the correct ways to practice "intention". It reminds me of the play, "Fiddler
on the Roof" when Tevye is aloud to God, going over reasons why he should make a decision one way or another. He concludes, "On one hand, he is right and on the
other hand she is right. They are both right. So who is right?" Either way, I applaud
the bravery of both camps. They are in an impossible, tragic situation that is ignored by
the rest of the world. Not one country has had the guts to stand up to China on Tibet's
behalf. While we invade every country w/out WOMD, China gets a free pass.
As for myself, I have felt a hopelessness & cried an ocean of tears for decades
over Tibet. One can only pray the world community will come to the aid of Tibet.

Clifford A.
Clifford A.6 years ago

It would be a great start for our world if people would only defend their borders, and not attack other people and engage in "empire building" like China, the USA, and many other countries seem so inclined to do. Then maybe we could move toward the condition where borders would no longer be needed either. We are not there by a long shot, but it's goal worth striving for. It won't happen until everyone learns to respect the rights of everyone else, and that is probably my biggest pipe dream of all. There may be a viable way to make it happen, but I don't have a clue as to what it is.