Thubwang Kyab, 23, sets himself ablaze on the main street of Sangkog town in Sangchu, Tibet on October 26, 2012 protesting China's rule. He succumbed to his injuries at the protest site.
DHARAMSHALA, December 21: Beijing based journalists of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have been able to gain rare access to Tibet, reporting on Tibetan voices of dissent and resistance in the face of heavy security crackdown in the region.
“China is not good to us,” a Tibetan woman, described as a herder, with her face hidden for security reasons tells the camera. Another woman asserts, “We would be so happy if the Dalai Lama comes back.”
Their remarks are reflective of the demands made by 95 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in Tibet since 2009 in the continuing wave of self-immolations. Thousands of Tibetans including school students have spilled out on the streets and carried out mass demonstrations protesting China’s rule in recent months.
Beijing has blamed exile Tibetans for inciting the protests, a charge which they have vehemently denied
In the video report, CBC News Beijing correspondent Catherine Mercier travells undercover to eastern Tibet, a region which has seen the bulk of the self-immolation protests.
Mercier in her report notes that the Tibet story is not an easy one to tell as police presence in the entire region is “heavy” and the crew had to hide for most of the time.
She says that people are reluctant to talk as "punishment for anyone caught denouncing the Chinese can be severe." Upon visiting the historic Labrang Monastery, where Dhondup
, an elderly Tibetan, passed away in his self-immolation protest in October, Mercier says people are only willing to talk off camera.
China recently said that it will press murder charges against those found aiding or inciting self-immolations and announced heavy cash prizes for information on “crimes” related to the fiery protests, which includes offering condolences to the deceased’s family.
However, Mercier reports that the “new threats” from the Chinese authorities are “not likely to stop Tibetans,” as many of the people she spoke to said they will keep protesting.
“But the people of Tibet are resistant to the changes, fighting to preserve their culture, and willing to sacrifice their lives to do it,” she reports.
China continues to cut off Tibet from the rest of the world even as international clamour over diplomatic access and visits by foreign media has grown in recent weeks. The United Nations, European Union, US, UK, and Canada have all called on China to address the grievances of the Tibetan people and allow investigative visits to the region.
A media crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was turned back
from Tibet in October this year by Chinese government officials saying: “Because you're a journalist. Because this is a Tibetan area.”
In earlier instances, journalists attempting to enter Tibet have been chased, forced back, warned of visa cancellations, and also detained in some cases.