Exiled Tibetans express helplessness over rising self-immolations

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 24, 2012 14:00 hrs

Exiled Tibetans have expressed their helplessness over the alarming rise in cases of self-immolations and anticipate no positive impact of the new China leadership, as previous governments have fallen back on their promises and adopted repressive policies in Tibet.

Recent reports from Tibet say that a Tibetan man died after setting himself on fire in Luchu in north-eastern Tibet on Thursday night, taking the total self-immolation count to 80, including 18 in this month.

On November 15, China's ruling Communist Party unveiled an older, conservative new leadership line-up that appears unlikely to take the drastic action needed to tackle pressing issues like social unrest, environmental degradation and corruption.

New party chief Xi Jinping, premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and vice-premier in charge of economic affairs Wang Qishan, all expectedly named to the elite decision-making Politburo Standing Committee, are considered cautious reformers. The other four members have the reputation of being conservative.

Except for Xi and his deputy Li Keqiang, all the others in the standing committee - the innermost circle of power in China's authoritarian government - are 64 or over and will have to retire within five years.

The Tibetan government in-exile in Dharamshala has already appealed to international organizations to urge China to change give up their repressive policies.

Director of Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Tsering Tsomo, said: "It shows that they are desperate for particularly the people of Tibet. So, because of the repressive policies, because of the strict control over the day-to-day life of particularly the monasteries. They cannot practice their daily rituals, routine, as they like. Each and everything is being strictly controlled by the Chinese people."

The new leadership will have to quickly get down to business to address several pressing issues - and the Tibetan unrest might not be the top of the agenda - but Tibetan exiles warned that if the situation is left to simmer then it could become a major headache for the new leaders.

The United Nations' most senior human rights official had called on China to address frustrations that have led to Tibetans' desperate protests, including more than 70 self-immolations since March 2011.

China has refused, and continues to blocks foreign journalists from the region. It has set up roadblocks to some Tibetan areas where there has been unrest.

Tensions over Tibet are at their highest in years after a spate of protests over Chinese rule and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.

Some 78 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against Chinese rule over Tibetan region. At least 64 have died, according to Tibetan rights groups.

The surge in self-immolations in China in protest over its rule in Tibet has heightened tension in recent months. Indian-based rights groups said there had been a massive security clampdown in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China, and in some instances protesters were beaten even as they were ablaze.

Meanwhile, Tibetan activist and renowned poet, Tenzin Tsundue, while speaking to reporters in Coimbatore, said: "It actually shows how China is insecure in Tibet and how they are losing control, while Tibetans have been suffering under the Chinese occupation, but we are becoming much more united and overall, there is unity and a very powerful non-violent resistance movement is going on under the leadership of His Holiness Dalai Lama."

China rejects criticism that it is eroding Tibetan culture and faith, saying its rule has ended serfdom and brought development to a backward region.

China has ruled Tibet since 1950, when Communist troops marched in and announced its "peaceful liberation"

Tsundue said that the cases of self-immolation pointed towards a serious crisis in Tibet and that the Chinese government was losing its authority and control in Tibet.

"It is not three, not even ten, here we are talking about 78 cases of self-immolation and a series of such phenomena nowhere in the world had ever happened, in the entire history of the world. 78 cases of self immolation says that issue of Tibet will not only live on, but there is a serious crisis happening in Tibet and this also shows the Chinese government is losing its authority, its control in Tibet and they are now desperate to do anything possible," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, has accused China of "cultural genocide".

Beijing considers him a separatist and does not trust his insistence that he only wants greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Beijing denounces the self-immolations as acts by terrorists and criminals.

The Dalai Lama denies he is a separatist and says he only wants meaningful autonomy for his Himalayan region. He made no direct comment on the self-immolations or to United Nations report that urged China to address deep-rooted frustrations that have led to such desperate forms of protest by Tibetans. (ANI)

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