News

Tibetan Exiles Discuss Suicide Protest Amid Mourning

Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan exile, runs after setting himself on fire during a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in New Delhi, March 26, 2012.
Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan exile, runs after setting himself on fire during a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in New Delhi, March 26, 2012.
Kurt Achin

A year of self-immolation protests by Tibetans reached exiles in India, when one of their own set himself on fire last month. A new generation is preparing to take up the Tibetan cause in northern India.

Young Tibetans play at school recess on a bright April day. They wear the traditional clothing of a homeland they have never seen. This is Dharamsala, India. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama came here in 1959 with tens of thousands of followers, and set up a de-facto exile capital.

The clothes, and a stepped up effort to speak Tibetan, are part of the so-called “White Wednesday” that mirrors a parallel movement of passive resistance in Tibetan areas under Chinese control.

Lately, the children also have been learning about another kind of resistance, by Tibetans who have chosen to set themselves on fire.

Furthering the Tibetan cause

In the past year, there have been 34 fatal self-immolations to protest Chinese policies. Teacher Dolma Nyima faces the challenge of teaching the kids why someone would take such a drastic step.

“During our assembly, we show them the picture - how the people have self-immolated. And when they see the picture, they are emotional.  It changes all of their expressions. Some children are asking, 'Oh teacher, will we have to do like this?”

Twenty-seven-year-old Jamphel Yeshi became the first of this year’s self-immolations to take his life on Indian soil. He ran through the streets of New Delhi ablaze on March 26, just days before the scheduled arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao. Activist posters plastered around Dharamsala celebrate him as a “martyr.”

Tibetan Youth Congress General Secretary Tenzin Chokey helps print the posters.

“I am sure in the Western context these images are not allowed to be shown to kids at all. But here we are, you know, this is the reality," said Tenzin.

Children flock to funeral


School children were among the thousands who lined the recent funeral procession route of Yeshi through the streets of Dharamsala.

“There were people lined up, we expected that. And I knew school kids would also be lining up. But to see them, you know, with the flags, that was a very, very emotional moment for me,” said Tenzin.

The United States government funds a reception center in Dharamsala for Tibetans who flee persecution at home.

A 27-year-old who arrived about a month-and-a-half ago says what motivated him to leave was cultural repression.

He said he had a tiny picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama around his neck. The Chinese soldiers ripped it off. They beat him first, he said, and asked questions later.

Tibetan exiles see themselves as the inevitable winner of a historical contest of endurance against the Chinese Communist Party.

But if the 76-year-old Dalai Lama dies without returning home to Tibet, it is an open question whether young Tibetans, in exile or at home, will be able to contain their anger.


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xing
April 17, 2012 9:03 AM
The exiles said Chinese do not allow them to study Tibetan Language. However, these guys's English are very good and fluent.

by: Kyakpa So
April 11, 2012 10:02 AM
I am surprised at sensational headline and the story. Teaching children ABOUT current events of self immolations is quite different than teaching them "about Suicide Protests". I do notice that VOA has changed the headline from the original which read "Tibetan Exiles Teach Young About Suicide Protest Amid Mourning".

Use of footages of fire in the ritual incense burning with junipers is misleading.

Shameful of VOA to sensationalize this story.

by: Rebecca Novick
April 11, 2012 4:04 AM
These kids look, what, about 7 or 8? They get emotional? Er, yeah, it's a guy burning to death. And what is the subliminal message? This could be you some day if you want to be a real hero? There is a difference between learning about your history and propagandizing. This, I am afraid, looks a lot like the latter, and to such a vulnerable and innocent audience. I truly hope that those involved think about what they're doing a little more deeply and the message they are sending to the future.

by: Kevin
April 10, 2012 7:17 PM
The Dalai Lama says that he is the incarnation of justice,but the fact is he doesn't care the benefit of his followers,the only thing that in his mind is fight! I don't think it is good news for Tibetans and Chinese!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs