Dharamsala : Tibetan prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay has appealed to Tibetans not to encourage self-immolation or protests inside Tibet because China only responds with more repression.
In his opinion piece appearing in The Washington Post Friday, Sangay said 11 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in eastern Tibet since March, of which six have died. The Chinese government describes them as “terrorists in disguise”.
“The reality is that their desperate acts were a scathing indictment of the People’s Republic of China’s rule in occupied Tibet. They highlight the dramatic struggle for survival as a people with a unique culture and identity,” wrote Sangay.
“Tibetans in exile have reacted to the pain and suffering inside Tibet, particularly in the Ngaba and Karze areas, where most of these self-immolations have occurred, with horror and anxiety,” said Sangay, the youngest to head the government-in-exile.
“The immolators acted on behalf of Tibet and the Tibetan people, and their intention was to harm no one else. This painful and sad action emerges from their anguish; they live in a climate of fear and have no other means of expressing themselves.”
Clarifying his government-in-exile stand on ongoing protests, he said: “The Tibetan leadership in exile does not encourage self-immolation or protests inside Tibet because China only responds with more repression.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently appealed to Tibetans not to resort to such desperate acts. In 2008, for example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Tibetans to cease the hunger strikes they were staging in response to China’s repressive policies.”
Sangay appealed to exiled Tibetans to end their hunger strikes unto death because “we need them to protect and preserve our cultural and national identity, and to ensure the strength of our movement worldwide”.
“We urge Tibetans in and outside our homeland to focus on secular and monastic education. Highly educated professionals and learned monks will provide the human resources and the capability to strengthen and sustain our movement.”
Seeking international community intervention, Sangay said: “We urge the United Nations and the international community to send fact-finding delegations to Tibet and view the situation firsthand… The international community must press the government of the People’s Republic of China to restore freedom and resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue.”
The Dalai Lama along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.