DHARAMSHALA, January 23: A new report has warned that unless the Chinese authorities ease the restrictions placed on the Tibetan people, and engage in sincere dialogue aimed at addressing their grievances, there are serious concerns that self-immolation will remain the only avenue for Tibetans to voice their desperation and frustration.
At the launch of its 2011 Annual Report on Human Rights in Tibet, earlier today, the Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said that 2011 has been one of the most brutal and repressive years in Tibet.
In the past 11 months, 16 Tibetans in Tibet have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
”The sooner Chinese government realise this, the better: When the people you rule chose death, you know you have some serious housecleaning to do before you continue with your global soft power charm offensive,” TCHRD executive director Tsering Tsomo said at the release of the report.
The report criticises China for increasing the level of oppression in Tibet and refusing to admit any responsibility for the fiery wave of self-immolations.
“The Chinese government must realise that naked force and police power will only prolong this vicious cycle of repression and resistance, benefitting no one, least of all in achieving Beijing’s hallowed goals of harmony and stability,” Tsomo said.
Commenting on the status of education in Tibet, the 108-page report noted that the government fostered educational atmosphere “stifles critical thinking, innovation, and opportunities for learning” while increasingly limiting the “availability of the Tibetan language as medium of education”.
“Chinese is already being introduced in rural preschools in an attempt to relegate the Tibetan language to a mere subject. A culture is one step closer to extinction if its language is rendered irrelevant,” the report said.
The report also carries detail research on the “ever-widening net” of state censorship, language rights, torture of detainees and political prisoners, enforced disappearances, flawed development model, environmental destruction, and the “consistent violation” of civil and political rights of the Tibetan people.
TCHRD estimates that currently, there are over 830 known political prisoners in Tibet, out of which 403 are known to have been legally convicted by courts.
“In 2011 alone, (as of 15 December) 230 known Tibetans have been arrested and detained,” the report said.