By Vijay Kranti
A MAZE OF QUESTIONS AND INDICATORS EMERGING FROM THE SELF IMMOLATION BY A TIBETAN YOUTH
Until a day before Jamphel Yeshi (27) became a burning sensation in the international media this week, his story was no different from those few million Tibetans who live today in what Chinese leaders call a 'Socialist Heaven' or 'China's Tibet'. He was one of those ten thousand and odd young Tibetans who could smuggle themselves out of Tibet in recent years in search of better education in a Tibetan exile school or, to find some free breathing space for their suffocated souls.
Like most of his fellow young compatriots in occupied Tibet, Jamphel too had never seen Dalai Lama nor had lived under, what China brands as, the 'feudal' rule of the 'Dalai clique' that was dethroned by the Mao's army 36 years before Jamphel was born. Like his father, he too was educated and brought up on a daily overdose of communist indoctrination which hopes to convert Tibetan and children of other 55 'national minorities' of China into 'patriotic' citizens of the 'great motherland'. He too was told by his class teacher every day in his school that the Dalai Lama was a 'wolf in the robes of a monk' and hence deserved their hatred for being a 'splitist' and as the' worst enemy' of their Chinese motherland.
Of late, since he entered his teens and started becoming aware of his ethnic identity, he too has been feeling suffocated and lost amidst a new flood of Han settlers in his traditionally Khampa Tibetan town of Tawu which, his father told him, was assimilated in the neighbouring Sichuan province of China after Tibet lost its freedom.
Jamphel quietly crossed over to India in 2007 and was going through a computer course in Delhi on the day he decided to take the extreme step of self immolation during an anti-China and anti-Hu Jin Tao Tibetan rally near Indian Parliament.
Hu is especially despised by Tibetan masses as the 'Butcher of Lhasa'. As the Governor of Tibet it was Hu who used army tanks and armoured vehicle to effectively crush the Tibetan uprising in Lhasa in 1989. Three months later it was the same 'Lhasa Model' of Hu that was used by his seniors in Tien Anman Square in Beijing to crush the Chinese youth's uprising against the communist system.
Jamphel was the 32nd in a chain of self immolations inside and outside Tibet in past one year. Yesterday he became the 18th among the confirmed Tibetan deaths. Fate of other 13 is known only to Chinese police and authoriies. Following Jamphel's death the government in New Delhi has, for obvious reasons, decided to further tighten measures to ensure a comfortable stay for its priced guest Mr. Hu Jin Tao.
In a couple of days Mr. Hu will return to China and the stink raised by the immolation is most likely to melt away in the flood of other important news items. But Jamphel's moving inferno leaves behind some issues which may haunt a world community that expresses faith in democracy and civilized conduct. Just a few issues to ponder over:
A long chain of self immolations by Tibetan youths, majority of them being monks and nuns, negates the oft repeated Chinese claims that everything is fine inside Tibet. Or, that Tibetans love Chinese rule and despise a 'feudal' Dalai Lama. One after another burning and dying immolator shouting for 'Rangzen' (Tibetan freedom) and return of Dalai Lama to Tibet, exposed another face of Tibetan reality to the millions of YouTube watchers across the world as opposed to what Chinese government claims.
32 cases of self immolation by Tibetan youths and not a single case of stabbing, shooting, bombing or hostage against their colonial masters underlines the Tibetan people's deep faith in their leader Dalai Lama and his commitment to 'Ahimsa' and non-violence. It also makes a laughing stock of Chinese leadership when they desperately try to paint Dalai Lama as 'Hitler' and a 'Nazi' collaborator of the USA.
It establishes beyond doubt that resistance inside Tibet is alive and widespread even 61 years after the Chinese takeover and that the Dalai Lama is, perhaps, more popular that he was on the escape day to exile in 1959. It also proves that the Communist indoctrination of six decades has failed to cool down the national aspirations of Tibetan masses. And, that Tibetan masses today feel pushed to desperation.
With each of 32 immolations happening in erstwhile Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo, now parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu, it challenges Chinese assertion that these areas are not 'Tibet' or that only 'Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)' is the 'Real Tibet'.
In most events of these self immolations, the manner in which the Chinese PSB police and agents kicked the man on flames or the local Han bystanders pelted stones over the dying young Tibetan only reflects the deep divide between the Tibetan and the Chinese settlers in Tibetan areas.
In a world where just a single self immolation by a Tunisian vegetable vendor can invoke world support and revolution in 15 countries, absence of any reaction or measures on the part of United Nation and other world governments towards an unending chain of immolations compels the sceptics to think that the real triggers of world sympathy lie somewhere else rather than in world governments' commitment to democratic and human values. They might start wondering loudly if the world community has not arrived a stage where world opinion is more influenced by economic power of a single government than the collective moral power of the world at large.
And above all, Jamphel Yeshi has left the world community with a question: have we arrived a stage where thousands of struggling communities across the world might lose faith in the efficacy of democratic and non-violent expression as a valid tool of conflict resolution?
The author is a senior journalist and a Tibetologist and can be contacted at email@example.com
Article submitted by the author.
The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website.