In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.
- Dalai Lama
This past week, a young Tibetan woman, 17 years of age, set herself on fire in the Qinghai province of western China. Wangchen Kyi is the 8th child to self-immolate out of protest to the despotic rule of the Chinese government over the ethnic Tibetan region. Wangchen’s action corresponded with a dramatic upsurge in the extreme form of protest in November. Radio Free Asia reported that last month alone there were at least 22 self-immolations of a total of 86 Tibetans that have set fire to themselves since 2009. Activists have attributed the recent rise in public outcry to the protestors increased sense of despair over the marginalization of the Tibetan religion and culture by the Chinese government.
China continues to maintain that it protects Tibet’s rights, allowing the Tibetan people to sustain their culture and to practice their religious faith. All the meanwhile, the government continues to tighten its control over Tibetans freedom of expression, religion, assembly and movement. This past year, the Chinese government introduced an entirely new set of regulations demonstrative of an even more severe intervention by the state. Under a Tibet-specific policy, named “the Four Stabilities,” the Chinese government has granted itself strict control over the news, media and communications in Tibet. Also involved in this program is an intensified political education (designated ‘patriotic education sessions’) and circulation of propaganda throughout villages and schools. The “Complete Long-term Management Mechanism for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries” grants the Chinese government even greater control over Tibetan’s religious life as government officials are to now be stationed in every single monastery. Traveling is now also incredibly limited in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) – restricting movement within and to the TAR.
China’s policies have only aggravated the situation in Tibet. The government’s effort to suppress speech has clearly led to more fervent outbursts. Wangchen’s last breaths were spent calling out for the long life of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. We cannot let her cries go unheard.
Help us in utilizing our most powerful tool: the truth. The Tibetans struggling for their freedom need our assistance in raising awareness to their plight.
Follow us on twitter & facebook to stay informed about what is actually happening in Tibet:
And if you need more information about the ethnic conflict, read our recently launched history on Tibet:
A summary of the situation: Many people around the world still don't understand the situation in Tibet; and too many write it off as insignificant because they don't comprehend the full scale of oppression that Tibetans face daily. Since the 1950s, the People's Republic of China has occupied Tibet, against the Tibetan people's will and wishes. There was never a time in the history of China's sovereignty over the country that Tibet welcomed the situation. And why would they? Tibet has a long and rich history, with its own leaders, before China claimed it. The Chinese government claims that it has a "right" to govern Tibet based on an agreement that was signed by the Dalai Lama in the 1950s - but since then, on numerous occasions, the Dalai Lama has repudiated the agreement.
China has forced its culture and politics on Tibet and its people; and has outlawed many native practices and ideologies (i.e. the exile of the Dalai Lama). A high number of Tibetans have fled the country over the years and found sanctuary in places like India, but many find themselves feeling displaced. Those who have remained in Tibet face, in addition to cultural oppression, extreme poverty and a complete lack of democratic freedom. In Tibet, anybody, even tourists and other non-natives, can be arrested for expressing opposition to the government policies, and most are never granted a fair trial. These people are either living in complete fear or have accepted the situation and are resolved to live under extreme oppression. In America, and many other countries, we take for granted the ability to practice our beliefs, critique our government and express our opinions - but try to imagine what a world without that freedom would be like.
For more than 60 years now, since the Chinese government took control of the land, its estimated that at least a million Tibetans have been killed. Some have died in jail as political prisoners, others have been killed by law enforcement during non-violent protests, and many have committed self-immolation. Tibetans are calling out for our help...just take a moment to listen and you'll hear it.
What we're doing: At 3 Generations, we believe in the power of storytelling. Our goal is to end human atrocity by helping survivors share their stories with the world, and archiving these stories for the future. Over the years, we have filmed survivors of varying genocides and oppressive situations, and facilitated them in telling the stories of their lives and experiences in their home countries. We've worked closely with Tibetan refugees including Ngawang Sangdrol, a former Tibetan nun whose story is compelling. The details of her life are both touching and horrific, from going to live as a nun at a very early age, to frightening accounts as a tortured prisoner. It's important that we all hear her story so that awareness surrounding this particular issue can be raised. Also, the storytelling process is important in and of itself; it's therapeutic and has allowed the survivors we've worked with to release some of their pain.
What YOU can do: By supporting this project, you are helping to raise awareness for the situation in Tibet and allowing us to continue to provide this important outlet for survivors and their grief. The more people that understand the situation in Tibet by listening to the stories we've captured on film, the closer we get to standing together as a global community and helping to improve this dire situation and to ending atrocity as a whole.
Since the 1950s Tibet has been under Chinese rule and the Tibetan people have been ardently trying to regain their political freedom. Over the years Tibetans have organized and carried out many public protests, including self-immolation, to encourage the government to listen to them; unfortunately they’ve had little success. The Chinese government continues to stifle the cries of the Tibetan people by throwing protestors, journalists, and anyone openly opposing the current regime into jail, turning them into political prisoners. These political prisoners have no rights, are tortured and abused, fearing for their lives every day, and are in desperate need of our help. They aren’t just Tibetans either, many of these prisoners come from other countries as tourists on vacation or journalists looking to investigate the situation in Tibet. Can you imagine being thrown in jail, without a fair trial, because you took a picture of a public protest and wrote about it on your blog?
Clearly, Tibet needs our support and for us at 3 generations that starts with storytelling. There are still many stories to hear from Tibetan refugees and political prisoners and we are currently working on finding people willing and wanting to share these stories publicly. Before the end of the year we hope to have multiple new videos made that will raise awareness and expose the current state of socio-political conflict in Tibet. In the meantime, we are cultivating relationships with other organizations that are helping Tibet, such as the Tibet Fund. The Chinese government refuses to listen to the Tibetan people’s pleas for freedom, but we’re all ears.
According to the Associated Press "Another Tibetan has set himself on fire in western China to protest government policies" and he's not the only one. In addition to this 19 year old monk that recently set himself ablaze, everyday Tibetans are protesting all the ways in which their government has chosen to ignore the cries of its people. Self immolation, large marches and rallies, and various other public protests are continuing to take over the streets of Tibet.
While we are awaiting the funds to help Tibet in bigger ways, we are continuing to cultivate relationships with Tibetan people and organizations such as the Tibet Fund. The Tibet Fund's goal is "to preserve the distinct cultural and national identity of the Tibetan people." We have a similar goal: this year we plan to film Tibetan survivors and refugees, allowing them to share their stories, and hopefully encouraging the type of support and help that this region desperately needs.
In the past three months several news reports have been released on the increasing number of Tibetans committing self-immolation to protest Chinese policies.
The Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet provides insight with his statement, “Self-immolation is a window into the deep suffering and frustrations that Tibetans everywhere are feeling, and is an urgent cry for help that the global community cannot ignore."
3 Generations continues to support the Tibetan community. Through our website and social media outlets we share our survivor stories and the latest news to help build awareness and encourage action to end current atrocities in Tibet.
Additionally, we are conducting research and actively fundraising in order to film and share more survivor stories. We invite you to listen, learn, and take action.
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3 Generations Founder and President