Tibetan acts of self-immolation rise amid the battle for hearts and minds

The Guardian reports: On the roof of the world, Chinese paramilitaries are trying to snuff out Tibetan resistance to Beijing’s rule with spiked batons, semi-automatic weapons and fire extinguishers.

Every 20 metres along the main road of Aba, the remote town on the Tibetan plateau in that is at the heart of the current wave of protests, police officers and communist officials wearing red armbands look out for potential protesters. Dozens more paramilitaries sit in ranks outside shops and restaurants in an intimidating show of force.

At the nearby Kirti monastery, Chinese officers in fire trucks keep a close eye on pilgrims prostrating themselves, in case their devotion turns to immolation.

Outsiders are not supposed to see this. The Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to block access to Aba, in north-western Sichuan, which is home to more than half the 23 monks, nuns and lay Buddhists who have set fire to themselves in acts of defiance aimed at the Chinese Communist party in the past two years.

The authorities have blocked internet and mobile phone signals. Checkpoints have been set up on surrounding roads to keep outside observers, particularly foreign journalists, away.

But after a 10-hour drive through mountain valleys and snow-covered plains, the Guardian was able to get into Aba and witness how the authorities are trying to quell dissent with security, propaganda and “re-education” campaigns. These tactics have had little success. Despite flooding Aba with security personnel, the protests continue.

The latest occurred on Saturday. Tenzin Choedron, an 18-year-old nun, shouted anti-Chinese protests as she ignited her petrol-soaked body in Aba, exile groups said. Her whereabouts and condition are now unknown.

Three days earlier, a former Kirti monk sacrificed himself in similarly horrific fashion. Rinzin Dorje, was taken to a hospital but his whereabouts and wellbeing are also unclear.

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1 thought on “Tibetan acts of self-immolation rise amid the battle for hearts and minds

  1. Norman

    Ah, the so called civilized. I certainly hope that the humanoid species that replaces the present one, isn’t possessed with strong victimizing the weak gene. Perhaps life as we know it, will take a holiday for a few hundreds of years before the regenerating of the next.

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