Tibetans don’t give up.
It’s been 53 years since the first March 10 uprising against the Chinese invasion. Since then the world has mostly ignored Tibetan appeals for justice (correct that: the world’s governments, bowing to Chinese interests due to realpolitics, its economic might and their own lack of moral courage, have largely ignored Tibet, even while their citizens would tend to side with the Dalai Lama).
Much has changed in Tibet in those 53 years, but not the fact that China still needs an army in Tibetan streets to prevent people from saying out loud what everyone thinks.
What to do against such powerful odds?
The tragic answer for more than 25 Tibetans has been self-immolation. Of all the sad stories in the news everyday, the plight of a young mother shouting “We want freedom” before lighting the match is crushing. If only more people could have heard.
From an LA Times story on self-immolation:
Until last year, self-immolation was almost unheard of among Tibetans, unlike with Vietnamese Buddhists. One case was reported in 2009, and then none until March 16 last year, when a 20-year-old monk set himself on fire at the Kirti Monastery.
Although Chinese authorities swamped the monastery with riot police, building a barracks outside the front gate and posting 24-hour guards inside, the self-immolations continued. By October, they had spread to other monasteries and nuns began joining in.
“Now it is moving from the clergy to the lay people, and at that point it gets hard to stop,” said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University.