The highest plateau in the world has been home to humans for 21 thousand years and since the fourteenth century, it has also been the seat of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. But the history of the plateau is not as calm or tolerant as its people.
Since the annexation of Tibet by the newly independent China in 1950, the region has been marred by turmoil and unrest. The authoritarian Chinese government had promised greater regional autonomy to Tibet in the Seventeen Point Agreement signed between the two parties to formalise the accession.
The present situation is far more troubling.
China practically controls Tibetan affairs- it’s well devised propaganda to increase the influx of Chinese settlers in Tibet so that there is a more diverse population is not the only strategy. China is also encouraging, and covertly at times, even coercing the mingling of the Chinese with Tibetan women so that the future generation has mixed descent and carries the Chinese name.
There have been worldwide protests against excessive control and encroachment of the Chinese in Tibetan affairs. But when all legitimate and peaceful ways of negotiation fail, protests go unheard and demands for autonomy are responded by further control; the Tibetan finds no louder tool than self-immolation.
The first incident of self-immolation occurred in 2009 when a young Tibetan monk in his twenties set himself on fire raising a homemade Tibetan flag that had a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Since then there have been 46 immolations, the latest one of DolkarKyi, who set herself to fire recently, while calling out the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and urging that there was no freedom in Tibet.
But despite all the turmoil, the point to be noted is that not once have the Tibetans turned to arms and weapons, or revolutionary methods to protest. Captured by a country which itself has a bloody history of revolutions and battles for power and remains aggressive in its territorial expansion even today, Tibetans are guided by dharma, or duty. They have always been an altruistic culture, tolerant and accommodating. It is so harsh that god has painted this fate for a group of people who have been so virtuous.
It is ironic that throughout history, demands through peaceful means are not heeded to and people respond only in the face of threat and coercion. In an age where people all across the world are being mercilessly killed, whether by their own governments or by foreign governments, by peacekeeping forces or by terrorist outfits, all of which make the headlines, all of these are commonplace. These people are not even harming those who have taken over and have wrecked all that belonged to the Tibetans.
It goes to the credit of the morals and principles of Tibetan people and their self-sacrificing culture that in the absence of freedom in their homeland, people are ending the one thing that is the dearest to anything living- their life.
Instead of blasts killing others, it should be these self-immolators that should get world support and attention. After all, in the age where majority of the world has rights and human security, Tibetans have neither. And it is a dark stain to the progress the world has made, to the efficacy of world bodies such as the United Nations, and reveals the dual standards of the major world powers marked by vested interests.
Image Source [http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfthq/6305964567/sizes/l/]