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Blog Watch: Cry for help

March 28, 2012

Bloggers from around the world voice their opinions about the increasing number of self-immolation cases of Tibetans who demand an end to what they consider Chinese domination and aggression.


The majority of Tibetans in China complain of religious "repression" and a "gradual erosion" of their culture, according to the news agency AFP. They blame the wrongdoings on the growing influx of Han Chinese - the country's dominant ethnic group. Beijing, on the other hand, rejects the accusations made by Tibetans of political and religious repression.

Since 2011, the grievances of Tibetans have silently increased. At least 29 people, including Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves on fire in China to protest against the Chinese rule.

Incident in New Delhi triggers Beijing response

According to the latest developments, a Tibetan national, Jamphel Yeshi, set himself on fire on Monday in the Indian capital city of New Delhi where Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to take part in a BRICS summit on Thursday. The act of self immolation by Yeshi was carried out in order to register his protest against the Chinese Premier's visit. Yeshi is said to be fighting for his life in a New Delhi Hospital.

Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama for the incident. Speaking to reporters, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "Recently, the 'Dalai group' has been sparing no efforts to incite Tibet independence activities and deliberately create various disturbances."

The Dalai Lama denies that he seeks independence for Tibet, insisting that he is only in pursuit of greater autonomy for the region.

Bloggers demand international response

Sunday Times of India editor Shobhan Saxena believes that ignoring what is happening in Tibet will only bolster the Chinese regime. In his blog published online, Saxena says, "It's time a world leader showed courage and mentioned Tibet at an international forum. It's time the world told China that its crimes against Tibet will not be tolerated anymore."

Demonstrators carry a banner reading 'free Tibet'
People around the world continue to demand China 'free Tibet'Image: DW

A New York-based documentary filmmaker, John Halpern, who has worked on exploring the cultural journeys of East and West and the evolution of Buddhism in popular Western culture also confronts this matter in his blog published in The Huffington Post. Helpern is of the opinion that the conditions inside Tibet are "inhumane and genocidal." He also claims that there is no freedom of speech in Tibet as media has been cut off and even foreign tourists are not allowed in the region.

Regarding the self-immolations, John Halpern says that the Dalai Lama's absence from politics in the past year has prompted Tibetans to take strong initiatives. "In 2,000 years of Tibetan history, this level of self-sacrifice is unprecedented. This is their last prayer."

Another blog website "High Peaks Pure Earth" has published a blog by a woman named Woeser written originally for Radio Free Asia's Tibetan service. In her blog, Woeser quotes another writer named Wang Lixiong who thinks that Tibetans should not continue to self-immolate. Lixiong originally wrote the article to be posted on Twitter to trigger a debate on the matter.

Giving her take on the grievances of the Tibetans, Woeser writes, "At this moment, a voice of reason is very important. It must be widely spread and sincere discussions about what can be done are imminent."

Almost all the people commenting on these blogs have written in favour of Tibet, calling for immediate international action. Bryan Beus' comments on Woeser's blog signify the sentiments of a number of people: "Glad to see that some sense is awakening." Beus further writes, "With respect to those who have self-immolated, I believe it is a misguided effort at bringing about reform. That being said, I am glad to see that the flame of courage is still present in the Tibetans."

Tibetans look towards the skies

In the upcoming BRICS summit to be held in New Delhi this week, heads of states from Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa will meet to discuss economic and development-related issues. Despite Jamphel Yeshi's self-immolation in the Indian capital city, it is not sure whether Tibet and Tibetans' cry for help will be on the agenda.

Author: Aasim Saleem
Editor: Sarah Berning

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