OPINION: A Nation on Fire ( བོད་རང་བཙན )


What is self-immolation? It is an extreme act of protest by lighting oneself on fire when all other methods of resistance seem futile. The first self-immolation in Tibet happened following the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now over 100 self-immolations have occurred, each martyr crying out for the freedom of Tibet.

Flag of Tibet. Photo from Wikimedia.

These freedom callers don’t fear death; they are past the point of fright. Peaceful protests aren’t enough. That is the mindset of the Tibetans that have self-immolated. Many of the deceased are monks and nuns. Tibetans are being oppressed and stripped of their natural human rights by the Chinese communist government. A land with no religious freedom, Tibetans live in a world where they aren’t allowed to pray freely and openly own a photo of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Doing so will lead to Chinese officials beating and torturing people who commit this “crime.” China’s crackdown on Tibet isn’t just a recent occurrence, it has been happening for many years, only intensifying as time goes on. It’s gotten to the point that the self-immolations have happened outside of Tibet.

Map of Tibetan Self-Immolations, Updated April 25, 2013. Photo from Wikimedia.

Chinese policies placed upon Tibet are unfair and unjust and they are slowly pushing the Tibetan identity to the brink of extinction. China proclaims that Tibet will be worse off independent and that it is simply helping the Himalayan land to prosper, when in reality it is the reason for this peaceful home to many’s unfortunate deterioration.

Outside media isn’t allowed inside Tibet. Journalists and other tourists are restricted to where in Tibet they can travel, which places suspicion on China’s description of a so-called “harmonious society [with] a good environment,” as said by President Xi Jinping. The president goes on to say that “[Tibet’s] people are happy and healthy,” which is clearly a lie, as many have died for their belief that Tibet isn’t ‘happy and healthy’.

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