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Tibet Freedom Movement Intensifies Through Incessant Self-Immolations

The Freedom Movement in China Occupied Tibet may soon be heading towards a “Tipping Point” if Chinese forcible suppression of the peaceful freedom movement is not restrained. The incessant self-immolations with dying slogans of “Freedom for Tibetan People” and “Dalai Lama Must Return, refuse to die down despite Chinese suppression.

Recorded figures since 2009 till this month indicate that 120 Tibetan self-immolations have taken place. These self-immolations comprised 101 Tibetan males and 19 Tibetan females. All of these self-immolations have taken place within China Occupied Tibet except for one which took place in China. These Tibetans were freedom fighters as the self-immolations were not for any personal reasons as Chinese officials allege.

However these figures are a tip of the iceberg as with the severe Chinese military clampdown in China Occupied Tibet, self-immolations in the more outlying regions may not find their way into recorded information of the Tibetan Government in exile.

A Huffington Post article by Peter Dzietr aptly titled ‘Tibet Can No Longer Stand Alone” highlights that “with each passing week the situation in Tibet seems to grow increasingly dire” and that the incessant self-immolations do not find their way in the global media.

Since an increasing number of such Tibetan immolations for the cause of freedom reportedly comprised persons around 18 years of age, it is debatable in terms of perspectives as to how long the Tibetan Freedom Movement could remain peaceful as HH The Dalai Lama fervently desires.

China Occupied Tibet has witnessed and continues to witness the brutalisation of what was once a “Spiritual Kingdom” by the Chinese military and Chinese Armed Police which surpasses the Taliban’s medieval brutalisation of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

China’s ethnic and cultural genocide inflicted on Occupied Tibet in the last sixty years, forced disappearances of Tibetans protesting against Chinese Occupation, forced re-location of Tibetans in ‘Socialist Villages’, and stamping out of all vestiges of Tibetan culture has not diminished the freedom movement in China Occupied Tibet.

More than 2 million Tibetans are widely reported to have been forcibly re-located in the last couple of years to locations and housing sites selected by the Chinese Government. The fig-leaf advanced by the Chinese is that this is desirable for better life of Tibetans. However what is logically obvious is that herding the hapless Tibetans in such so-called Socialist Villages’ is to ensure better surveillance and control of the Tibetan people chafing under the military occupation of Tibet by China.

Stephen Marshall, Member of the US Congressional Executive Committee on China makes a telling point when he states: “The Tibetans are moved to a point that they are expressing in what they feel is the strongest way they possibly can— I will give up my life in order to make the statement that I do not see a future for myself or my people as part of China”.

China seems to be in a “state-of-denial” that the Tibetan young Freedom Fighters would continue to give up their lives for Tibet’s freedom from Chinese military –occupation by ‘self-immolations only’. A “tipping point” could reach when these Tibetan Freedom Fighters frustrated by Chinese brutal suppression may decide that while I give up my life for Tibet’s freedom I might as well take a few Chinese military lives along impeding that freedom.

The global community and India too seem also to be in a “state-of-denial” that nothing is much amiss in China Occupied Tibet and especially that both the United States and India must defer to China’s forcible military occupation of Tibet by ‘China Appeasement” policies. And as part of such strategic formulations it is better to stay silent on the Tibetan self-immolations.

The United Sates has this month sent the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke to the China Occupied Tibet capital of Lhasa to raise US concerns about “deteriorating human rights situation” and specifically the self-immolations by Tibetans against Chinese rule.

The US Ambassador about two years ago had also visited Sichuan or the same purpose.

The United States however has a higher call to restrain China from its brutal suppression leading to self-immolations in China Occupied Tibet. As the ardent votary of Universal Human Rights, the United States needs to pressurise China to permit peaceful protest demonstrations in China Occupied Tibet, unrestrained access to international media to this Region and force China to accede to the ‘International Convention Against Torture’

The Tibetan Human Rights Organisation puts it accurately that:

“The barbaric and brutal Chinese response to the Tibetan freedom movement demonstrates China’s weaknesses, not its strengths. When the whisper of Human Rights or a photo of the Dalai Lama results in torture, the weakness of the Chinese in Tibet is exposed. The brutality of the Chinese Government has not dimmed the determination of Tibetans to fight for their Human Rights”.

(Courtesy: South Asia Analysis Group.The writer, Dr. Subhash Kapila, is Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email: )

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