DHARAMSHALA, November 28: A group of Tibetans, spread across several cities in Tibet and China, is reportedly sitting on a hunger strike in solidarity with the ongoing wave of self-immolations against China’s rule.
More than 60 Tibetans from different walks of life began their solidarity hunger strike in their evening of November 26 in their respective places. According to Kanyag Tsering, an exiled monk who has been closely monitoring the situation inside Tibet, the Tibetans will end their hunger strike in the morning of November 28.
The campaign is being observed in various cities across the tradition boundaries of Tibet.
“The simultaneous hunger strike is being carried out in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, Drango, Jomda, Zachukha, Tridu, Sertha, Siling, Rebkong, Kardze and Trindu in China,” Tsering told Phayul. “They have also been offering prayers for the self-immolators.”
According to the same source, the Tibetans taking part in this campaign come from different walks of like and are “highly educated.”
“The participants in the solidarity campaign include government officials, writers, monks, and businessmen.”
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 86 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
November alone has reported 24 self-immolations and protests by thousands of Tibetans, including by school students in Chabcha and in Rebkong.
The Chinese government has retaliated to these protests with further restrictions and threats.
Chinese authorities in the eastern Tibet recently issued a five-point notice giving stern orders to local officials to punish self-immolators and their families; even those who had offered condolences and prayers to the bereaved family members and relatives. The notice further announced the cancellation of government aid to families of self-immolators as well as development projects in villages where similar protests have taken place.
Government authorities in the region are also collecting signed statements from each household conforming that they will not self-immolate. Refusal to sign such statements attracts immediate detention.
The Dharamshala based exile Tibetan administration has said that the escalation in self-immolations clearly reflects the gravity of Tibet’s current situation.
“Despite our repeated appeals not to take drastic actions, self-immolations continue in Tibet,” Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people said in a release this month. “Therefore, I appeal to the international community and governments to stand for justice by answering the universal aspirations of Tibetans in Tibet: the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.”