Minister Dicki Chhoyang speaks to the press after the inauguration, April 4, 2014/photo/Tenzin Phende
DHARAMSHALA, April 4: Dicki Chhoyang, the Tibetan minister of Department of Information and International Relations, Tibetan government in exile today inaugurated an exhibition on Tibetan self immolation protests at Tibet Museum, near Tsuglakhang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj.
Dicki Chhoyang said, “This exhibit is an effort by the Central Tibetan administration to tell the international community why are Tibetans self immolating, what has led to 129 Tibetans to self-immolate so far.”
Since 2009, 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.
The exile Tibetan administration has made appeals to Tibetans inside Tibet to refrain from drastic actions including self-immolations. She also said, “While the self immolation continues, we feel a moral responsibility to make sure that the international community understands the background.”
“Through this exhibit, we hope that more and more people will understand this very sad and tragic cycle of events that we have been witnessing since 2009,” Chhoyang added.
Tashi Phuntsok, Director of Tibet Museum said that the main purpose of the exhibition is to introduce and give details of “the true situation inside Tibet, to give backgrounds and explain why 129 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, their aspirations, their last messages, their locations” to the international community.
The Tibetan government in exile maintains that the self immolations “represent a new threshold of Tibetan despair and resentment” and attributes the current crisis in Tibet to China’s policies of “political and religious repression, economic marginalisation, social discrimination, cultural assimilation and environmental destruction in Tibet.”
The Chinese government has responded to the self-immolations with even harsher policies, criminalising the fiery protests and sentencing scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in self immolation protests. Chinese officials have barred Tibetans from offering prayers and showing solidarity with families of self immolators and announced the cancellation of development funds to those villages where self-immolations have taken place.
The exhibition on self immolation is a part of Tibet museum’s travelling exhibition. The same exhibition was showcased earlier during Tibet Festival at Guwahati in February.
The Tibet Museum, founded in 1998 is an undertaking of Department of Information and International Relations. It aims to document, preserve, research, exhibit and educate the public on all matters related to the Tibetan history and culture.