Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stomping all over Tibet

My article Stomping all over Tibet appeared in The Pioneer on March 21.
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Chinese propaganda has gone a step further. Beijing now uses its netizens “to urge the Dalai Lama to immolate himself”. The Beijing-sponsored site, China Tibet Online, has several purported postings attributed to Chinese Netizens: “If the Dalai Lama could hire others to set themselves on fire, why doesn’t he burn himself? The Dalai Lama, do you dare to set an example by burning yourself?” Another says, “How disgusting those guys are by asking people to burn themselves! All Chinese netizens suggest the Dalai Lama set himself on fire. Dalai, please burn yourself right away.” Will this atrocious propaganda help dissipate the Tibetans’ resentment against repressive policies? Nobody seems to be asking this question in China.
At the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, spoke about the recent spate of self-immolations: “The Chinese Government respects freedom of religion and normal religious activities of the Tibetan people … whoever commits self-immolation is wrong and immoral ... Everyone enjoys the freedom of speech nowadays, and it is not necessary to show extreme and aggressive behaviour.” If this were true, why would young monks and nuns set themselves on fire?
Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, squarely blamed the Dalai Lama: “According to what I have heard, he (the Dalai Lama) publicly applauded the courage of these people who set fire to themselves.” That is not true. To my knowledge, the Dalai Lama expressed himself only once on the subject. A couple of months ago, he declared in Tokyo: “These incidents of self-immolation are very, very sad. The leadership in Beijing should look into the ultimate cause of these tragic incidents. These Tibetans have faced a tremendously desperate situation, otherwise nobody will commit such drastic acts.”

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