Kirti Rinpoche addressing the Tibetan community members in Jona, Switzerland on March 3, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, March 4: The exiled chief abbot of a Tibetan monastery at the centre of a wave of self-immolations called on Tibetans in exile to take responsibility as Tibet continues to burn in protest against China’s occupation.
Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, the head of Kirti monastic community, was speaking to Tibetans in Switzerland on Sunday.
“Tibetans in Tibet are looking to the exile community for help,” Rinpoche said. “Therefore, if we don’t act, who will respond to their cry for help?”
The former minister in the exile Tibetan administration is currently on a three weeklong visit of Europe to talk about the situation in Tibet, particularly in Ngaba region, where almost 40 self-immolations have taken place since 2009.
He blamed 60 years of China’s oppressive rule and policies aimed at destroying Tibetan religion, culture, environment, and language for the ongoing wave of self-immolations and protests inside Tibet.
“Wherever there is oppression, there is rebellion,” Rinpoche said quoting China’s paramount leader Mao Tsetung. This is what we are witnessing in Tibet today he added.
Kirti Rinpoche noted that the drastic situation, particularly in Ngaba region is an outburst of three generations of suffering under China’s rule. The septuagenarian recalled that Tibetans in Ngaba had first faced communist China’s onslaught when Mao’s Long March plundered the entire region in 1935 leading to the first case of famine in Tibet.
The sufferings continued with the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and to the past more than one decade with the intensification of patriotic re-education campaigns and the harsh crackdown on the peaceful protests of 2008.
On February 27, 2009, Tabey a 27 year-old-monk of the Kirti Monastery became the first known Tibetan inside Tibet to self-immolate. Chinese security personnel instead of putting out the fire shot him and since then his whereabouts remain known.
More than a year later, on March 16, 2011, Lobsang Phuntsok, 20, a monk at the same monastery set himself on fire, beginning in earnest, the ongoing wave of self-immolations which has now witnessed 107 Tibetans living under China’s rule torch themselves.
On Saturday, Rinpoche also presided over a special prayer service for Tibetan self-immolators and their family members at Rikon Monastery.
As part of the lobbying tour, Rinpoche will visit Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and United Kingdom.
In Brussels from March 7-11, Rinpoche will meet with European Union and Belgian government officials and will address the March 10 European Solidarity Rally for Tibet. He will also speak on the self-immolations and current crisis in Tibet on March 8.
Kirti Rinpoche has lived in India since he followed the Dalai Lama into exile at the time of the Tibet Uprising in March, 1959. He was recognised and enthroned as the reincarnation of the Tenth Kirti Rinpoche in 1946.
In 1984, as a Representative of the Central Tibetan Administration, Rinpoche visited Tibet and China, where he met many Chinese dignitaries and high Tibetan lamas including the 10th Panchen Lama.