Blog Post 8 4/16/2019

For today’s blog I read Katia Buffetrille’s article Self Immolations In Tibet and Jeffrey Bartholet’s article Aflame both chronicling and trying to understand the reasonings for the Tibetan self-immolations that have been occurring in recent history and their connection to China’s occupation of Tibet. Without a historical basis for setting one’s self on fire, Buffetrille states how the first modern self-immolation occurred in response to the Indian police preventing a group of the Tibetan Youth Congress from participating in a hunger strike until death. Following police intervention in the hunger strike a monk set himself on fire catching large amounts of international media attention. This action has since been followed by a number of other self-immolations in protest, with the most of them occurring directly after some form of Chinese crackdown in Tibet. A vast majority of them occur directly within Tibet, however given Chinese censorship self-immolations are usually noticed most when they are done by Tibetans in exile. There is debate over the motivations of those who perform these self-immolations and whether they are acts of protest and the immolators are martyrs in the fight for Tibetan independence or the immolators are simply suicidal Tibetans and self-immolation has become the preferred method of taking one’s life. In my opinion the self-immolations are a direct form of protest to Chinese control and are the most radical non-violent way a Tibetan can show the world their problems with China. Buffetrille states that roughly two-thirds of the immolators have been in their twenties with the oldest being in his forties. We have discussed in class how the younger generations of Tibet are beginning to generate tension with the Dalai Lama and his calls to non-violence against the Chinese, given that it goes against the teachings of Buddhism. Given the idea that there are some Tibetans considering using violence against the Chinese in their desperation, it would make sense that there are a large number of young Tibetans who are not willing to use violence against the Chinese yet, but still believe that more radical steps need to be taken to show that Tibet does not accept Chinese rule. By self-immolating this more radical generation is honoring the Dalai Lama’s wishes and not violently revolting against the Chinese, but are still showing that they are willing to give their own lives, become martyrs in the name of Tibetan Independence. And is it can be seen in Buffetrille’s article many Tibetan’s view those who self-immolate as martyrs, having giving their life in the fight against Chinese repression, regardless of whether or not that life was given at the end of a gun barrel, or from the engulfing flames from their gasoline soaked clothes.

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