The 50-year-old monk named Dhondup finished his morning meditation as usual, walked to the side of the Serkhang temple (meaning golden house) in Xiahe County, and demolished in a golden blaze. His body was immediately seized by the police.
Xiahe, a county in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture(GTAP), Gansu province, China, has seen two such cases in the past 48 hours. On Saturday, a 27-year-old Tibetan man named Lhamo Kyeb, a layman and father of two young children self-immolated.
Reports described him as “running along the road in a ball of flames, calling for the Dalai Lama to come home.” His family managed to get hold of his remains., said a London-based rights group.
They followed a self-immolation of Tamdin Dorje, the grandfather of a prominent young Tibetan reincarnation lama on October 13, near a monastery in Kanlho, GTAP, at the same spot where a 21-year-old Tibetan mother set herself in August.
“They sacrificed their lives, for sincere motivation, for Buddha Dharma, for the wellbeing of the people”, said the Dalai Lama in a broadcast interview with NBC’s Ann Curry during his visit to New York in October.
“In the short-term, the power of the gun is stronger than the power of truth, but in the long run, the power of truth is much stronger.”
Under Chinese control
Nobody can tell what exactly instigated these immolations, as Tibetan communities are still very much fenced from the outside by the Chinese government. Foreigners are restricted from travelling to Tibet or Tibetan settlements in China.
Foreign media were closely monitored if not entirely intersepted. Though the Chinese make up more than 90% of the population in most Tibetan settlements outside of Tibet, genuine interactions are scarce, while in Tibet the number of Chinese tourists doubled this year, they usually stay in Chinese hotels and eat in Chinese restaurant.
Ever since it came to the international spotlight for the 2008 riot, Tibet has been under strict control, as the Chinese government does not want to be shamed again.
The continued immolations even hardened its attitude and the sacrifices are described as terrorist acts to the outside, while within China, their names are banned entirely.
On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, during the whole day, nothing about the incidents was mentioned. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has always been portrayed as a fascist.
A bleak future
Young Tibetans are forced to learn Chinese, and many are encouraged to attend higher education in China. There were more than forty Tibetan students in my previous University in China, none of them could write Tibetan and some of them do not speak the language.
Today’s Tibet is caught in a difficult situation. As the exiled regime is getting old and faces the prospect of perishing, the young remaining in China get simulated and gradually digested in the Chinese culture and materialism.
Despite their frequent sacrifices for cultural and political freedom, it is more and more likely that they will never get there.
- The 57th Tibetan set himself on fire to fight for a free tibet that is less and less likely (rvampie.com)
- Another Tibetan sets himself on fire in protest (nzherald.co.nz)
- Lhasa, Tibet named happiest city in China? (chinadailymail.com)