Tibetans in Dharamsala express dismay over self-immolations

Exiled Tibetans have expressed shock and dismay on receiving reports of three more Tibetans setting themselves on fire in Tibet.

Dharamsala: Exiled Tibetans have expressed shock and dismay on receiving reports of three more Tibetans setting themselves on fire in Tibet to protest against repressive Chinese rule in their homeland.

The current death toll from self-immolation has now reached 85, with 22 alone in the month of November this year.

Sangay Dolma, a 17-year-old nun, set herself on fire at Bharkor village, 18-year-old Kunchok Tsering died after setting fire to himself at the entrance of mining field in Achok town in Labrang in north-eastern Tibet and Gonpo Tsering, a 24-year-old set fire to himself in front of the prayer hall of Ala Dheu Monastery at Luchu in Kanlho in north-eastern Tibet.

“The situation in Tibet continues to be grim and in view of the increasing self-immolations in Tibet and we have three self-immolation in one day, yesterday and in total 85 Tibetans have self-immolated and 22 in this month, November alone. The situation is very grim,” said Spokesperson of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in-exile, Lobsang Choedak at Dharamsala.

According to certain sources, the Tibetans raised slogans calling for freedom and human rights in their homeland and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

They also sought withdrawal of security forces in the region following the incident.

China maintains that Tibet is an integral part of China and that other countries hosting the Dalai Lama amount to interference in domestic Chinese affairs.

“How long can we keep on counting the bodies of dead Tibetans? This is a challenge to the conscience of everybody in this world who believes in principles like freedom, justice, peace. These Tibetans, they burn themselves because they are calling for freedom, basic freedom and fundamental rights. So, of course, there should be more engagement from the international community as well as from international governments to press on the Chinese government to resolve this issue, as soon as possible so that Tibetan lives can be saved,” said Director of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Tsering Tsomo.

China has branded the self-immolators ‘terrorists’ and criminals, and has blamed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

Beijing has termed the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, but he denies supporting violence and says he merely seeks greater autonomy for his homeland, which he claims is a victim of Chinese ‘cultural genocide’.

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

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

China rejects such criticism, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward area.