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.
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