I think it’s time for an update on the situation in Tibet:
Tibetans have been clamoring for the freedom to express themselves – culturally, religiously, and of course freedom of speech and press – and we’ve seen tragedy strike again and again. 62 Tibetans have now self-immolated. 62. As I’ve expressed in my previous posts, I agree with the Central Tibetan Administration and H.H. the Dalai Lama on this – these individuals are desperate, and they are committing the ultimate sacrifice because they feel the world will not listen.
Remember, the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1949. Tibetans have done everything they could, first appealing to the UN, fighting back against the incoming PLA troops, and then peaceful protests, for decades. They simply have never had the resources that the PLA has always had at their disposal (to give you an indication: when China invaded Tibet, the entire plateau only had three radios. Also consider than when the PLA first marched into Lhasa, they arrived with over 20,000 troops – all of whom had horses and empty stomachs – the fragile agricultural balance and carefully maintained surplus that Tibetans had kept going for four centuries was depleted and destroyed in roughly a few months. Mao may have called himself a Communist, but the poor farmers and working class suffered first).
Today, people are suffering from poverty, imprisonment, police brutality, the destruction of their culture, and a general lack of freedom (take, for instance, the 19-yr-old monk arrested yesterday for having a cell phone).
As you may know, we saw 7 self-immolations in 7 days last week – the highest frequency yet. Supporters of the Tibetan people have demanded change in its wake. However, there is finally some good news. The world is listening.
I want to take a moment, since there are so many new people finding out about Restored Voice Project, to talk about this project’s scope and mission.
Restored Voice Project seeks to empower these women, who have been silenced by the Chinese authorities (and whose kindred and kin are still being silenced), by giving them a chance to finally share their perspectives. What’s happening in Tibet is happening to Tibetans, and yet the story we hear is moderated by the Han Chinese. It’s a Tibetan story told by non-Tibetans, in our mainstream media.
Often, in reading the nuns’ TNP bios, I encountered a familiar sentiment at the end of their abbreviated life story:
“The West needs to remember what is going on in Tibet…”
“I want to learn English so that I can tell the world about Tibet…”
“I am going to be a teacher, so that I can go back to Tibet and teach in my village, where there was no school… I will keep fighting peacefully for Tibet to be free….”
“I am going to learn English because the world cannot forget about what is happening in Tibet…”(*)
Now, decades since the Chinese invaded, we still haven’t heard from these women, and most of us don’t even know they exist. Why not?
…Emphasis on “young.” Both of them were under twenty.
This I read on the International Tibet Network‘s Facebook page:
“Lobsang Kalsang, 18, a monk at Kirti Monastery and Damchoe, 17, a former monk at the monastery self-immolated on 27 August 2012 outside Kirti monastery, Ngaba Town. According to eye witnesses, they took about 20 steps near the east gate of the monastery, shouting slogans and then fell. Chinese security personnel put out the flames and took them to local hospital initially and later to Barkham hospital. Sources said that they both died.”
Since news and media is heavily monitored by Chinese officials, there is still some uncertainty whether these two young people did indeed pass. There is also a case a monk and his niece, a nun, who may or may not have immolated. It seems most Tibetans believe they did indeed self-immolate in protest.
Here is a list of the Tibetans who have recently risked, or lost, their lives for Tibet in this fiery form of protest: http://standupfortibet.org/learn-more/