The fact that Tibetan people are setting themselves on fire in this 21st century is to let the world know about their suffering, and to tell the world about the denial of basic human rights. – Jamphel Yeshi¹
The world press has been mainly silent about the many self-immolations among Tibetans. Some media mentioned it briefly, some speculated about the reasons behind it, assuming for instance it would have to do with “religious fundamentalism” (ZEIT Online), lacking any understanding or deeper insights. It might be due to this undue silence of the world, that the CTA (Tibetan Government in Exile) felt urged to publish their own documentary about it. It’s a real shame that the press failed to pick up this sad tragedy but instead uses time and money to report about ridiculous topics like a “Nazi Buddha from Space“.
For a background about the documentary see:
In an interview anthropologist Katia Buffetrille commented on the silence of the media with respect to Tibet and the self-immolations as follows:
What is happening in Tibet is very rarely covered by the media, firstly because of the many events that shock the world, secondly, because the Western countries greatly restrain themselves when it comes to anything to say against China. They are afraid that they might miss a business …
In answer to the question why the Dalai Lama is now silent with respect to the self-immolations, Buffetrille answers:
During the hunger strike of Thubten Ngödrup in 1998, the Dalai Lama expressed his disagreement with this kind of practice, which he considered as violence against oneself. However, he cites often Gandhi, for whom hunger strike was a non-violent act. He expressed his admiration for the courage of these people and attended prayers for them. But he questioned the effectiveness of such actions, he said, [these actions] lead to increased repression. Now he does not want to say anything about this [topic] any more.
The first Tibetan who self-immolated was Thupten Ngodup. He set himself on fire on 27th April 1998 after the Indian police came to forcefully stop the “Hunger Strike Unto Death” which was organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). After Thupten Ngodup set himself on fire the Dalai Lama visited him next day in the evening at the hospital.
For a background article see:
- Rite of Freedom: The Life and Sacriﬁce of Thupten Ngodup by Jamyang Norbu
To see the self-immolations in a more global and balanced perspective, see:
Self-Immolation in Context, 1963-2012 (PDF) (html version)– by Michael Biggs (University of Oxford) – which is from the collection of scholarly papers Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines.
Update Nov 24th, 2012
- The inextinguishable Tibetan fire in China’s darkness by Tibet Sun
- Make it a burning issue by Jamyang Norbu
Update January 2013
Update March 06, 2013
- „Why Tibet is Burning?“ (PDF)
Update March 07, 2013
- Quand les Tibétains s’immolent. Rencontre avec Katia Buffetrille
- Interview with Kelsang Gyaltsen – Representative of the Dalai Lama in Europe (mp3)
Update March 09, 2013
- SELF-IMMOLATION AS PROTEST IN TIBET – Guest Editors: Carole McGranahan (University of Colorado) and Ralph Litzinger (Duke University)
- A large compendium of background material and commentary – provided by the Cultural Anthropology Journal
Update March 10, 2013
Update August 17, 2014
- Going down in flames: Self-immolation in China, Tibet and India (PDF) by Martin A. Mills
- A list of Tibetan self-immolations since they began with Thubten Ngodup in 1997 by TIBETPROTESTS, moderated by Dr. Martin A. Mills
- The Fire In The East: Why Are All Tibetan Self-Immolators From Kham and Amdo? by TIBETPROTESTS, moderated by Dr. Martin A. Mills
- Tibetan Self-Immolation and “Intentional Homicide” in Chinese Law by TIBETPROTESTS, moderated by Dr. Martin A. Mills
- Tibetan Self-Immolation: The Larger Chinese Picture by TIBETPROTESTS, moderated by Dr. Martin A. Mills
¹ Associated Press, March 29 2012.
Last edited by tenpel on August 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm