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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid