The New York Times reports: A crowd of Tibetans came here to India’s capital last week, bearing flags and political banners and a bittersweet mixture of hope and despair. A grim countdown was under way: The number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule in Tibet had reached 99, one short of an anguished milestone.
Yet as that milestone hung over the estimated 5,000 Tibetans who gathered in a small stadium, so did an uncertainty about whether the rest of the world was paying attention at all. In speeches, Tibetan leaders described the self-immolations as the desperate acts of a people left with no other way to draw global attention to Chinese policies in Tibet.
“What is forcing these self-immolations?” Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, asked in an interview. “There is no freedom of speech. There is no form of political protest allowed in Tibet.”
Billed as the Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign, the four-day gathering featured protests, marches, Buddhist prayer sessions and political speeches in an attempt to push Tibet back onto a crowded international agenda. If the Arab Spring has inspired hope among some Tibetans that political change is always possible, it has also offered a sobering reminder that no two situations are the same, nor will the international community respond in the same fashion.
“The world is paying attention, but not enough,” Mr. Sangay added. “There was a self-immolation in Tunisia which was labeled the catalyst for the Arab Spring. We’ve been committed to nonviolence for many decades. And how come we have been given less support than what we witnessed in the Arab world?” [Continue reading…]