Thursday, March 08, 2012

Tibetans Outraged as China Labels Suicide Protesters Criminals

The Independent (UK)
Clifford Coonan
March 8, 2012.

Dalai Lama is behind growing number of self-immolations, claim Beijing authorities  
Chinese officials yesterday sought to play down the growing number of self-immolations by Tibetans, branding those who set themselves ablaze to protest Beijing's rule as outcasts and criminals being controlled by the Dalai Lama.

About 24 Tibetans are believed to have set themselves on fire in the past year, many in Aba, a prefecture in Sichuan province with a large Tibetan population. Protests in the area calling for greater autonomy erupted into deadly riots four years ago.

Wu Zegang, the government's administrator in Aba, alleged yesterday that the self-immolations were "orchestrated and supported" by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. "Some of the suicides are committed by clerics returning to lay life, and they all have criminal records or suspicious activities. They have a very bad reputation in society," said Mr Wu, himself an ethnic Tibetan.

Li Changping, a member of the Communist Party committee that governs Sichuan said "about 20 or so" people have set themselves on fire there in the past two years.

China insists that it treats minority groups fairly, and is investing heavily in the region. But Tibetans say their religion and culture are being suppressed, and they demand the exiled Dalai Lama be allowed to return to China.

The Buddhist leader has made clear he does not encourage the self-immolations, but the dramatic protests show little sign of subsiding. Three more people are reported to have burnt themselves to death since Saturday. The official Xinhua news agency yesterday acknowledged that a 20-year-old woman died after setting herself on fire at the weekend. It blamed the incident on depression rather than dissent.

Local officials said the woman, Tsering Kyi, had been taken to hospital after hitting her head and suffered fainting spells before setting herself on fire. Xinhua said her school grades started to slip, "which put a lot of pressure on her and made her lose her courage for life and study".

The outspoken Tibetan blogger known as Woeser said this was an attempt to sully the image of the protesters. "The government's mouthpiece, Xinhua, is trying to stain their image," she said. "Of course, the Chinese government clearly knows that such stigmatisation of Tibetans is not effective."

She said that the comments by the Aba administrator reflected official concern that the self-immolations flew in the face of the state narrative of a harmonious Tibet.

"They always say Tibetans are having a happy life. The Tibetans were liberated and since then they have enjoyed a happy life given by the Party. But the people burning themselves are aged 17 to 41 years, some are nuns, some are monks, some are farmers and nomads, fathers, mothers – they are all ordinary people,"
Woeser said in a phone interview from her home, where she is under unofficial house arrest. "The reality is that many people are not happy, that Tibet is not really liberated and this is embarrassing for the central government."

In other incidents in the past week, a mother of four and an 18-year-old died after setting themselves ablaze.

Tibet is on the agenda at the National People's Congress in Beijing this week. At the congress yesterday, a reporter asked Tibet's governor, Padma Choling, if he thought the Dalai Lama should set himself on fire. "If the Dalai immolates himself, that's his business and has nothing to do with me but regardless of who it is, I do not advocate it," he replied. "Life is precious. I do not hope that anyone will self-immolate."

Comment: Tibet does not belong inside the borders of China.  There can be no compromise.  Tibet must be freed from the tyrannical grip of China or Tibetans will disappear.

The Dalai Lama's position that there can be a negotiated settlement with Tibet remaining inside China is appeasement, and will prove unworkable in the long run.

What is happening to Tibetans under China is nothing short of cultural genocide, and worse.  China's vision for Tibet is to dislodge Tibetans.  To erase them.

If you are wondering what South Africa might be saying about Tibet after it denied a visitor's visa to the Dalai Lama just months ago you will not have to wonder too far.

The South African government is too busy coddling Beijing as it works on its stated pipe-dream of a 'developmental state' to be concerned with the human rights of Tibetans.

Pretoria won't want to offend the Chinese government 'cause we need their cheap sh*t and colonizing investments to help us enjoy our hard-won freedom.

Tibet's struggle for independence and freedom is just a hindrance to the re-capitalization of racism in South Africa.

In other words, the black struggle comrades of old are too busy becoming rich white capitalists to be bothered with Tibet or just about anyone else with no money or political clout.

Human rights, it seems, is a poor capitalist investment for our new potbellied and pointy-shoe ruling class.

And, if you watching closely the next deft move by South Africa will be to join India in imposing American mandated sanctions against Iran.

To defy American imperialism will not be a good business decision for the rich elite.  And it will prove again that South Africa can be bought by the highest bidder.

Truth is that Pretoria just keeps all that superfluous sh*t about a democratic revolution floating around to fool the poor masses into thinking they are free and living inside a human rights based democracy.

But if you were watching the streets full of poor protesters yesterday then you must know that the cookie is starting to crumble.

Like the old saying goes, "you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time".

And we are not free in the delusional rainbow.


Ps. For more information see


Kweli said...

My memory is tenuous, but I think there were people who immolated themselves in India under British rule and the Brits termed it "terrorism". This was one of the first times the word was used, I believe. Again, my memory on this is tenuous.

China treats minorities fairly, alright. Geez! I hear it is pretty hard for minorities to get government "recognition" over there. And if you're not recognized, you don't exist.
Plus, aren't they trying to Han-nify Tibet by moving so many Han people over there to out-reproduce the Tibetans? This one I got on the rumor mill: my friend went to do research over there.

Ridwan said...

Kweli you are right if memory serves me too. Will look it up and see.

It makes historical sense though that China would vilify protesters. Fits the way they usually operate when it comes to dissent.

China is no democracy and African elite who are running to the trough of capital investments will do well to note their authoritarianism.

Not that it will be any different than the west who claims to be democratic.

I saw a documentary where the move to place Han into Tibet was already well on its way. Your friend is right that Tibetans are being misplaced - the Chinese claim it is about multiculturalism and living together in peace.

That is what the apartheid regime said of its policies that set aside homelands for Africans.

Be well my brother and thanks for your comment.