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Saturday, December 10, 2016

TIBET ON FIRE

A Tibetan Buddhist monk has set himself on fire in western China in what appeared to be the latest such radical protest against Beijing's rule
Tashi Rabten lies in flames on a street in Machu county, Gansu, Dec. 8, 2016.


The monk set himself alight on a road outside the town of Machu in a traditionally Tibetan area of Gansu province at around 7 p.m. Thursday, Radio Free Asia and London-based Free Tibet reported.
Police who arrived shortly afterward took the monk away and there was no immediate word on his condition, they said.
A man who answered the phone at a regional police station hung up immediately after the caller asked for information. Calls to other government offices rang unanswered.
While information from the isolated area is incomplete, the incident is believed to bring to at least 146 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in recent years, about 125 of whom have died, according to monitoring groups.
Eyewitnesses have been quoted as saying that many of those who self-immolated cried out for Tibetan independence or prayed for the return of the Dalai Lama. Tibet's Buddhist leader fled Tibet in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese forces who had occupied the Himalayan region a decade earlier.
While China claims Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries, many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time.
Thursday's self-immolation was the first known to have occurred since either March or May, perhaps reflecting stepped-up security measures in Tibetan areas of western China where most such incidents have occurred.
The protests are seen as an extreme expression of the anger and frustration felt by many Tibetans — both lay people and members of the Buddhist clergy — living under heavy-handed Chinese rule.

In a new book on the self-immolations, Tibetan writer and rights activist Tsering Woeser describes them as forming a "broad protest movement that continues to this day."
"Because no other method is available for Tibetans to voice their protests, and because only the horror of self-immolation is able to capture the attention of the world, it has become the choice of the bravest protesters in Tibet," Woeser writes in "Tibet on Fire: Self-Immolations Against Chinese Rule."
Tibetan monks and nuns are among the most active opponents of Chinese rule in the region and the strongest proponents of Tibet's independent identity, prompting the authorities to subject them to some of the harshest and most intrusive restrictions.
Those include the stationing of police and informers inside monasteries and a 2007 regulation stating that reincarnations of high-ranking lamas — a central feature of Tibet's unique tantric strain of Buddhism — must be subject to Communist Party approval.
Beijing blames the Dalai Lama and others for inciting the immolations and says it has made vast investments to develop the region's economy and improve quality of life. The Dalai Lama says he opposes all violence but has neither publicly condemned nor encouraged the self-immolations.

Reports: Tibetan Buddhist monk self-immolates in west China Christopher Bodeen Associated Press December 9, 2016

Tibetan Father of Three Self-Immolates in Gansu December 9, 2016 josh rudolph 

Tibetan protester self-immolates in Chinese province 
9 December 2016 
Catherine Lai

Cina, un altro monaco buddista si è dato fuoco per protestare contro Pechino Simone Pieranni 09 Dicembre 2016 

3 Tibetans arrested for circulating self-immolation video as suicide note surfaces 14 December 2016  Catherine Lai

Self-Immolator’s Wife, Daughters ‘Tortured’ in Detention 2016-12-13

Detentions, Abuse Reported After Tibet Self-immolation December 16, 2016 Samuel Wade

A note written by Tashi Rabten, who last Thursday carried out a fatal self-immolation protest in Tibet, has emerged, explaining the reasons for his protest.

Note left by Tashi Rabten explains his reasons for his fatal self-immolation.

In the letter, written the day of his death, Tashi Rabtens wrote that Tibetans aredestined to self-immolate in protest for being kept apart from our own faith and nation.” He looks back at the history of the occupation of Tibet and stresses the peaceful nature of the Tibetan resistance. He contrasts it with the violent acts carried out under the Chinese occupation.

"WE TIBETANS ARE NOT SCARED OF DEATH"

One of the issues that Tashi Rabten dwells on is the destruction of Tibet's monasteries. He writes of how tanks and earth diggers are used to demolish monasteries and living quarters. This destruction is part of a wider attack on religion in Tibet that has also seen monks and nuns being beaten, abused and shot, and relics being looted.

He compares the destruction caused to Tibet by China with the crimes committed in China during World War II by occupying Japanese troops. In making the comparison, he references a policy of scorched earth by the Imperial Japanese army that is known in Chinese history as the 'Three Alls Policy'. It has been summarised as "kill all, burn all, loot all".

Tashi Rabten concludes his letter with a defiant tone, stating:

"I hope you will not think that I am joking. I am serious. What I wish to make people know is that we Tibetans are not scared of death, but in order to solve the issue peacefully, I was left with the only choice of self-immolating to warn people. "

He ends by expressing his desire to see Tibetans living "like genuine people on our own land." He set himself alight on a street in Machu County and later died from his wounds.

THE TEXT OF TASHI RABTEN'S LETTER

Tashi Rabten's letter was written in Chinese and appears to have been drafted with the help of a friend, known only by their pseudonym ‘Fire Bird’. The full, translated text of the letter is below:

I am Tibetan, therefore, I am not Chinese. As a Tibetan holding a Chinese passport, I want to shout out for the human rights and democracy of 1.3 billion people. Since I am a true Tibetan, I should even more shout out for us Tibetans, for our nation and freedom.

Today, I am going to go far away from this world, but I believe I may come closer to the one we Tibetans have faith in. We are destined to follow such a path to search for and retrieve what we have already lost, and what is further and further away from us: our own Tibetan homeland. We are destined to self-immolate in protest for being kept apart from our own faith and nation.

We want to follow our Rinpoche. We only choose a peaceful approach to solve the Tibet-China issue. For us Tibetans, what we absolutely don't want or wish for is a massacre such as the one that was carried out in 1958 by the Chinese troops, or the inhumane invasion of that time.

Similarly, we also don’t want to be accused of “beating, smashing and robbing”, as we were in 2008.

Except for the Han people in inland China, almost no one in the whole world believes that Tibetans “beat, smash and rob.”

Most Han people in China have been brainwashed, and this is an ongoing process since the establishment of the People's Republic of China. They are singing the ''Communist national anthem,'' holding the ''great leader'' in their hearts, and working hard for the ''Four Modernisations'' of China. Chinese people are having such thoughts for now and will be holding onto them.

In the year 2008, who really carried out ''Beating, smashing and robbing'' was no other than the armed forces and army sent by the Chinese government; in the whole of Tibet, they were the ones ''beating – smashing – robbing – killing''.

They ruthlessly beat us Tibetans, beat our Tibetan monks. They destroy the statues of deities in the Tibetan monasteries. They loot the historical relics. They shoot our Tibetan nuns, monks and young students.

They also killed many people who were on their way to Lhasa on pilgrimage.

The 1958 policy of burning monasteries in Tibetan areas has nowadays been replaced by tanks and earth diggers.

In recent years, many monasteries and monks’ residential quarters have been destroyed with tanks and earth diggers by armed police and army troops sent by the Chinese government. 

What is necessary for Tibetan people is other people's blessing and show of concern. We should be able to live like genuine people on our own land. 

Long live Tibetans! Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Machu, 8 December, 2016 Fire Bird

Woeser’s main thesis in Tibet on Fire is that self-immolations are extraordinary acts of political protest—powerful, self-sacrificing outcries to call the world’s attention to the unbearable level of oppression crushing down on the Tibetan people by the CCP dictatorship. She defends the immolators against the spurious charges by CCP propagandists that they are “terrorists” or neurotic fanatics manipulated into their horrific acts by the “Dalai clique” to make negative propaganda against China. She refutes conclusively the CCP propaganda that China “liberated” Tibet, beneficially “developed” Tibet, and has made Tibetans happy members of the Chinese “motherland.” She vividly describes the overwhelming oppression of the Chinese military occupation, industrial-strength colonial exploitation, environmental degradation, cultural suppression, and virtual imprisonment of what the CCP leadership labels the “backward,” “seditious,” and “ungrateful” Tibetan people.
In the opening chapter, “Why Are Tibetans Self-Immolating?” Woeser quotes Kirti Rinpoche, abbot in exile of the Kirti Monastery in Amdo Province, in testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress: “There is no greater expression of their desperate opposition to the Chinese government than by resorting to the most powerful method of a nonviolent movement, which is by refraining from causing any harm to the Chinese people and appealing to the Chinese government, than by setting themselves on fire.” Woeser further elaborates that “self-immolation is not suicide, and it is not a gesture of despair. Rather, self-immolation is sacrifice for a greater cause and an attempt to press for change.”
In Buddhist history, there have been immolations resulting from both sadness and joy. When Shakyamuni Buddha left his body in the act of “total nirvana(parinirvana), a number of the fully attained arhat–saints spontaneously combusted themselves in their grief at the loss of the presence of the Buddha. Mahakashyapa had to exercise his authority as successor head of the sangha to forbid others from doing the same, as they were needed to collect the teachings and to help the ongoing community. Then, in the Mahayana White Lotus Sutra, there is the story of the mythic bodhisattva Bhaishajya Raja, who burned his body as a lamp of offering to the Buddha who was his teacher, an act of pure joy and self-transcendence from which act he gains extraordinary accomplishments.
The Tibetan Buddhists, monks, nuns, lay men and women who have offered their bodies to the flames are fully aware of these traditions. From their perspective, they are not committing “suicide” (literally, “self-killing”) because they consider their “selves” to be more than their bodies; by committing such heroic acts of generosity, they are taking a huge evolutionary step of sending their subtle mindstream, samtana, (not their coarse personality mind) into a space of exalted freedom, whence they can assume another, better body. In fact, the Tibetan expression for the act is, literally, “burning one’s body with fire” or “offering one’s body in fire,” not “burning one’s self.” This is of course very hard for materialists, communist or capitalist, to understand; if one is convinced that the “self” is nothing but the body, then voluntarily giving up the body in extreme pain can only be considered masochistic suicide.
Kirti Rinpoche called such immolation “the most powerful method of a nonviolent movement.” Woeser’s book calls on us to realize just that and not to hide from its power by clinging to some mental notion that deprecates the courage of these yogis and yoginis of fierce freedom.

In a world so given over to violence and destructive consumption, these immolators are the heroes and heroines who offer to us all the vision of their determination that no one can conquer others, that harming another is harming oneself, that domination of others is self-enslavement, and that their loving nonviolence is ultimately more powerful than lethal violence

In her conclusion to Tibet on Fire, Woeser leaves us with this: “Memories are intertwined with these flames. The heroes who have sacrificed themselves to the flames will remain with us as long as we cherish their memory. I join my hands in prayer for my compatriots who have committed these painful acts of sacrifice. I hold them, their memories, and their aspirations in the deepest and most profound respect, now and forever.

Book Review: Tibet on Fire ROBERT THURMAN

"Tibet Now" New documentary about Tibet uprising SEPTEMBER 2, 2015

Tibetan mother self-immolates against China's occupation MAY 28, 2015

Tibet: Woman burns herself in protest over Chinese policies MARCH 9, 2015

Buddhist monk dies in self-Immolation protest in Eastern Tibet DECEMBER 23, 2014

New self-Immolation protest in Tibet DECEMBER 22, 2014 

UK government urged to denounce China's policy in Tibet MAY 19, 2014

Tibet Sky-The Dsinformation War APRIL 18, 2014

Young Tibetan Monk Sets Himself on Fire to Protest Chinese Rule NOVEMBER 11, 2013

Tibetan nomad dies after self-immolation protest MAY 30, 2013

Social Media Censorship APRIL 29, 2013

Double self-immolation protest APRIL 25, 2013

20 year-old mother dies after setting herself alight APRIL 17, 2013

Tibetan sets fire to himself at prayer festival FEBRUARY 25, 2013


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