News / Asia

Hope and Pity Among Exile Tibetans as Immolations Reach 100

Hope and Pity Among Exile Tibetans as Immolations Reach 100i
X
February 16, 2013 4:45 PM
More than 100 Tibetans have now attempted to sacrifice their lives since 2009, publicly setting themselves on fire to protest oppressive policies in Tibetan areas of China. Ivan Broadhead reports from India on the effect these self-immolations are having on the Tibetan community-in-exile. The names of some interviewees have been changed to protect their identities.
Hope and Pity Among Exile Tibetans as Immolations Reach 100
Ivan Broadhead
More than 100 Tibetans have now attempted to sacrifice their lives since 2009, publicly setting themselves on fire to protest oppressive policies in Tibetan areas of China.
           
Candle flames light the faces of Tibetan exiles in the small Himalayan town of Dharamsala, India. Here at the Dalai Lama’s temple: a vigil for the Tibetans who have self-immolated to protest Chinese policies. Tibet Parliament-in-exile member Kalsang Damdul says Beijing claims the suicides are organized and inspired by the Dalai Lama.

"They are totally spontaneous individual acts out of desperation. The situation in Tibet is so difficult - there is no opportunity for protest, for freedom of speech, so they are taking this drastic action," he said.

The immolations have drawn the world’s attention, but done little to change Beijing’s policies. Some analysts say the Dalai Lama should do more to stop the suicides. However, others like Fulbright fellow Patrick Dowd say the Tibetan spiritual leader is in a difficult position. 

"If he comes out against the immolations then we have had 100 immolators, and he is saying their actions are wrong. How are their families going to cope with this idea? If he comes out and supports the immolations, the Chinese are obviously going to feel affirmed in their claims that this is all being instigated by the Dalai Lama," said Dowd.

Of the 100 self-immolators, at least 82 have died. Sonam’s nephew was one of them. He spent a week in a hospital before succumbing to his burns.

"Inside too much burn, outside too much burn. He cannot live," he said. "He requested them to let him die: ‘I need to die for my country, for my people,’ he said.”  

"It is very tragic. I think everyone in this community lives in dread of hearing that afternoon announcement: Someone will go by with a loudspeaker and announce another immolation. There is a lot of sadness. But at the same time, I think there is a sense of pride that these people are sacrificing themselves for their nation and for their people, and that that sacrifice should be honored," said Fulbright fellow Patrick Dowd.

Tzering’s closest cousin also died after setting himself on fire. Despite the sadness, the young man says Tibetans feel pity for the Chinese, not anger. 

“I want to tell the Tibetan, don’t lose your hope," he said. "Your every individual effort will continue to make a difference in the world. So, never give up. No matter what will happen to us, we are going to face every challenge.”

For 54 years, Tibetans have made Dharamsala their home-in-exile. Despite all that time, people here remain optimistic that one day there will be an end to the suffering of their friends and relatives living in China-controlled Tibet.

The faces, voices and names of two sources for this article have been altered to protect their identity.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More