News and Views on Tibet

Young Tibetan woman killed in a bus attack in Toronto

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Toronto police are shown responding to the incident on June 17 outside of the station (Photo/CP24)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, July 7: In a horrifying incident of brutality, a young Tibetan woman in her 20s has reportedly succumbed to her injuries after battling for her life in the hospital for weeks. She was set on fire on a moving bus by a 33-year-old Tibetan man named Tenzin Norbu on June 17 around 12:30 p.m. at Kipling Station in Toronto, Canada. The police have called this blatant attack “hate-motivated” as they claim that the perpetrator and the victim had “no direct connection”. 

“The man was then alleged to have poured some type of liquid substance or an accelerant on this woman and then ignited that substance, causing a fire and causing the female victim to burn,” Constable Alex Li of Toronto police said earlier. There are still speculations as to what the motive of the violence could have been, but the police have repeatedly said that the victim and the suspect had no connection whatsoever. However, this has sparked outrage and confusion, especially among young Tibetans in Canada.

A post by Toronto-based ‘Made in Exile’ theatre group’s Director Rinchen Dolma called for accountability in the community for its silence on this attack to kill. “When we don’t seek help for our men, when they don’t seek it themselves, when we undermine the worth of our women’s life, when we let the mental health plaguing us go unchecked and unacknowledged, when we stay silent when our men enact violence and harm on to our women, when our women coddle and make excuses for them, we are failing ourselves in these moments. We are all complicit,” she wrote on Tuesday, the same day the young woman passed away.

Another Tibetan who also lives in the same vicinity told Phayul that a deafening silence fell in the community when the reports stated that the perpetrator was a Tibetan man. “Initially, there was a lot of anger when news of this horrible incident came up, and everybody was furious that one of our own had been hurt by some random man. There were rumours of the perpetrator being a black man, or that it was a hate crime, but when the evidence showed it was a Tibetan then everybody grew silent,” the source remarked, however admitting that not much is known about the overall incident at the moment.

“It doesn’t really matter where we are placed; this idea in our head that being in the West is somehow going to be more progressive, or that such gender based violence occurs rarely, is false,” Executive Director at Drokmo, Tenzin Kalsang told Phayul. The founder of the grassroots feminist collective said that she is enraged at how the exile community is currently enveloped in silence. “Incidences of sexual and gender-based violence do occur and they are prevalent; it is just that we are not willing to speak about these things. It is also a reflection of the larger issue of unresolved generational trauma all of us carry, which is a larger menace underlying the fabric of our community,” Kalsang further remarked.

The eerie silence in the exile community is not new, as another violent incident took place last year in October when a Tibetan refugee man gunned down a Tibetan woman in Switzerland. No Tibetan leadership condemned this blatant case of domestic violence. The suspect in this case, sources said, confessed his crime to the police after the murder. “There is an absolute delusion about our own progressiveness that makes us blind to the fact that one of our own sisters has been done wrong by a Tibetan man,” Kalsang said, adding that it is the powerful men in top leadership who are equally responsible for such a tragic event, when they argue in the parliament if the budget for gender sensitization is necessary or not.

The family of the deceased Tibetan woman in Toronto has asked for privacy in the wake of her untimely death on the gofundme page which was initially aimed to support her hospital expenses to treat “suffering from full thickness burns”. “We will be using the donations for upcoming funeral expenses and healthcare costs to date. At this time, we ask everyone to kindly please respect our privacy,” her sister Dawa wrote. The victim was a professional caregiver who was on her way to work when the attack happened; she was a young woman who had recently arrived in Canada from a refugee settlement in India. Due to a publication ban from the court, the name of the deceased and other details have not been released yet.

12 Responses

  1. Deepest condolences to the late innocent victim and her family. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻Omani Padme Hu. This is absolutely disgusting to take such action from this disgusting guy, evil.

    Have seen, Tibetan couple fight and tons of cases where assuming men assault women, however also we see, women taking advantage of marriage visa and file domestic violences, but reality it was all fake love or marriage or to get in north america first in mind and abusing the system of north America from both ends. This is true and sad story in our society. It is in fact similar stories in other immigrant nations, especially who came from developing countries where rule of law is a joke.

    That makes our mentality weirdo. We find, important thing in our Tibetan society, are organizing basket ball matches, singing, concerts, partying etc. yes they are ok to have fun but at the same time, what about education, why don’t we have annual Tibetan gathering for current general world knowledge debates, job fairs, elocutions competition, and teach paralegal, and infact, Tibetan parents in north america should encourage more with their kids in education, moral, ethics, and awareness of law and order. Which is absolutely crucial and it is lacking, when kids do something wrong, it is also to blame the environment they live in, and how they are brought up by their parents.

    There are tons of things to learns and grow and most important, becoming intellect, and mindful. Peace vs Conflict will always exist side by side. However only via proper education, conflict(s) can resolve in peaceful way.

    In fact, we should have tons of white colour office jobs in north america but reality is different. They end up working in factories and no idea rule of law and the North America system works.

    The point here is, society still need to grow, and acknowledges these crimes, and educate, advice our society, younger generations, as well as old to this is kind of crimes are absolutely disgusting.

    1. It is very sad. Pure evil.hope she reborn as a Tibetan in her next life. Prayers for her. Many women suffer abuse from men. And these women are mostly not very educational, not very aware of domestic abuse in Canada and america, and are very quiet. We need support these women. well, not just women but men and trans and all equally.

  2. Such violence is not necessarily be occurred with just women. Even men kills men and women kills men and women kills women. Tibetan feminist individual who has once undermined and criticized HH in support of a BBC’s reporter’s misinterpretation on HH’s interview shouldn’t take opportunity to give it a gender tone to get her business rolling unless the entire truth is surfaced. What has happened is a big shame to the community and should be handled with due process of the laws and the regulations. Also, should offer the sentence as per the sections of the various articles the crime falls under. Such a ruthlessness shouldn’t have its source from our culture. Whatever the findings of the case emerges at the end must bring to the light of the people so that such things are avoided.

  3. Even in old Tibet there were murderers and criminals. Bandits plagued Tibetan roads for centuries. Tibetans are human beings like everyone else in the world. We have our saints and sinners. Not to acknowledge this reality is just putting one’s head in the sand. The good thing is the vast majority of Tibetans in exile are good, compassionate & law-abiding citizens.

  4. WOW, what a Hypocrite society we are becoming. It’s so easy for us Tibetans to point fingers as if we Tibetans are so pure, followers of H.H. teachings, the subject of the middle path who can do no wrong.

    Everyone is now hushed when the perpetrator is a Tibetan. Just SAD.

    Remember a few years ago former Monk from Tibet swindled $$$ millions of dollars from investors. Every Tibetan NEWS outlet was hush about it, even when the NEWS of his prison sentence was all over US Media.

    Regardless of who the person is, a former monk from Tibet or Indian/Nepal. A perpetrator needs to be OUSTED from out society not harbor them.

  5. I am not surprised by silence in our community. For somehow staying silent in matters such as this will shield criticism towards our Tibetan communities art-large is misplaced. Open dialogue is what we need. This is decades in making and it’s still prevalent in our community wether it’s in India or Abroad. Women’s right is human right.

  6. I am appalled at the tragic incident caused to a young Tibetan girl in Toronto by a another Tibetan man. I am speechless, angry, frustrated, beyond believe that such a tragic incident happened in a broad daylight at a transport center.
    I am ashamed at this horrific act that was committed by a Tibetan. Are we not supposed to be peace loving, compassionate, never even hurting mosquito that bites you. If a fly were to land in your cup of coffee, we go all over to save the fly and be scared that the fly may be dead.
    How can anybody take the life of someone so young and someone who had the world and the future going for her.
    I know we are very enthusiastic about celebrating His Holiness Birthday, which is good. The more important thing is the follow his message of love and compassion.
    My heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family

  7. Oh wow. It is very surprising to see a young Tibetan women who was going to work get burned by a jerk. I am very sad to hear that this young torontonian died in the hospital. I hope that the family will recover soon. I hope that something like this won’t happen to any other human being else. These hate crimes and domestic violence should be stopped. And that man who burned her- shame on you. A Buddhist monk. This makes the Buddhist community in Toronto very embarrassed and ashamed. Mr.Tenzin Norbu had made the whole Tibetan community crumble. I hope everything and the hearing goes well. I pay tributes to the lovely victim.

  8. Such a shocking and sad incident , act of murder and hate. Such a shame. No connection have been confirmed and mentioned. Was it a targeted crime paid by someone. Or a man who have a crush , unrequited ? What on earth is happening to our people ??. There are so many more details need questioning , to be answered and to be addressed. You cannot gain anything in life by killing someone. More education on mental health and specially on how man needs to handle the problem and issues in a positive way is much needed and crucial. Very distressing and lost of words. Violence against woman , how man needs to overcome problems , issues and conflicts in positive way, needs to be addressed in our community. Silence kills. #conflict-resolution , #stopthevoioenceagaistwoman. Zero tolerance to violence against woman 🙏🏾🙏🏾 – stop the domestic violence.

  9. How can Tibetan community as a whole be blamed when Tibetans in Toronto aren’t talking about it and are silent ? Similarly the swiss incident too wasn’t disclosed much. Could it be because the families requested for utmost privacy? Even the Toronto victim’s identity is kept private as requested by the family.
    Miss feminist Kelsang should first research on ground before blaming Tibetans as a whole.
    Lastly May she Rest In Peace and let’s hope and work these horrible incidents never happens again. 🙏

  10. The news of the dastardly attack on a young Tibetan woman in a bus in Toronto-Canada is absolutely shocking! What is happening to the younger generation of Tibetans born outside our country? This is the second reported murder of two young innocent women by Tibetan men in the west. I have no doubt this is a clear sign of the younger generation losing their cultural and religious roots and turning them into myogenic, testosterone driven beasts!
    In our Buddhist culture, even hurting an insect is frowned upon and we save their lives if they have fallen into pits, water ponds or tea cups.
    Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian mountaineer who landed in Tibet after his escape from a British internment camp in Dehradun tells the story of Tibetan people’s respect and compassion upon other beings in his best selling book, “Seven Years in Tibet”. He reminisces that when a fly fell into the cup, “it was a catastrophe”!!! This is the Buddhist culture of compassion for fellow beings. The mere thought of a fly losing its life is regarded with such serious concern as to be a catastrophe!
    After seventy odd years of losing our country and scattered across the world, the younger generation is assimilated with the culture of their host countries and are losing the high standard of ethical morality and compassionate upbringing of our forefathers. Instead of showing compassion to the weak and protect them, they are killing our own sisters with unthinkable butchery! Tibet is the sacred nation of the Tibetan people for more than two thousand years and is blessed by Avaloketesvara (སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་) It is sacred territory that is blessed by the Buddha of compassion. Owing to this historical legacy, HH The Dalai Lama is regarded as the human embodiment of Chenrezig. As a result, Tibetans are by nature more compassionate than other races. In our daily lives, we often use the word སྙིང་རྗེ་ (compassion) umpteen times when we see or hear some distressing episode of human or animal misery.
    Now, all that empathy towards others seems to be a thing of the past and instead, some young goons are murdering one’s own kind in broad day light in the presence of wider public! How shameful! What cowardice! It’s unbelievable that they didn’t even care for the reputation of our own community. བོད་པའི་ཞབས་འདྲེན་ཞུས་ན་འགྲིག་གི་མ་རེད་ཙམ་ཡང་བསམ་མ་ཐུབ་པ་ནི་ཧ་ཅང་ངོ་ཚ་མེད་པ་རེད་ It’s therefore vital to instil the values that Tibetans have cherished through our Buddhist religion and teach them the words of the gracious Buddha. The great Tibetan emperors have laid down a code of conduct in the lives of every Tibetan and they are universally known as ལྷ་ཆོས་དགེ་བ་བཅུ་དང་ མི་ཆོས་གཙང་མ་བཅུ་དྲུག་ Parents at home must teach the notion of ahimsa འཚེ་བ་མེད་པ་ and instil these noble values when they are very young.
    If we fail to do this, the present tragedies unfolded in Toronto recently and Switzerland last year may multiply many fold in future. The morality of the younger generation is degenerating and it’s time to turn the tide by teaching the essential parts of Buddhist ethics of འཚེ་བ་མེད་པ་ ahimsa.
    The present tragedy has not only caused terrible loss of life of the poor innocent girls but brought shame to our Tibetan community as a whole. HH The Dalai Lama has prided us Tibetans as loving and caring human beings with His exemplary life of devotion to the cause of humanity. Such acts of brutality to our own sisters has diminished our own sense of legitimacy and integrity. IT IS EXTREMELY HARMFUL TO OUR OWN CAUSE, REPUTATION AND MOST OF ALL HEART WRENCHING PAIN TO THE DISEASED AND THEIR FAMILIES. We must stop such senseless brutality against our girls.
    Wherever there is mistreatment of women and girls, it must be exposed. Women and girls must be protected because while there is no difference in intellectual capacity, there is difference in physical strength. Since, the female kind are weaker physically, they must be protected from the ravages of male chauvinism. The protection of the weak, down-trodden and destitute are at the root of compassion. Every Tibetan parent has a responsibility to teach their children that even killing an insect is against Buddhist belief and will result in experiencing pain upon oneself proportionate to the pain inflicted upon the victim. Through such teaching of the laws of the karma, (ལས་འབྲས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་བཞག་) tragedies, such as the ones that shook the Tibetan community across the world can be prevented in future.

  11. It is sad, that the young Tibetan woman has succumbed to her injuries. My heart goes to her friends and family. It is shameful that we Tibetan millennials are tarnishing the peaceful, kind, and gentle image of Tibetan that has been portrayed over the decades by His Holiness and our elders.

    What i don’t understad is that how come every incident is related to women activists?
    If we switch up the places, where the man is at the receiving end of violence or abuse from a woman, without a second thought everyone would assume that it would be the guy’s fault. And it be a hush-hush, which is okay.
    Without knowing both sides of the stories, how can these so-called activists come to such conclusions??

    I am not a misogynist, but what I am afraid of is that the so-called feminist in our communities is sometimes being oversensitive. Or maybe it’s just that they don’t have anything significant to do rather than just policing the public and ready to pounce at every situation where is there is a slight opportunity of getting some notoriety.

    The approach of avoiding such future incidents should be educating our youths with emotional skills that are core to our Buddhist principles.
    May her soul rest in peace!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *