Tibetans, including a prominent writer under virtual house arrest in Beijing, are pleading for an end to self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule, saying such self-destructive measures do nothing for the cause of Tibetan rights.
Poet Tsering Woeser said in online appeal posted on Thursday that she is “grief-stricken” by the more than two-dozen people who have set themselves on fire over the past year. She called on influential Tibetans, including monks and intellectuals, to help end the deadly form of protest.
China has sought to portray the wave of immolations — including three since Saturday last week — as the result of outside orchestration rather than what activists say is local anguish over the government’s suppression of Tibetan religion and culture.
Many of the protesters have been linked to a Buddhist monastery in the mountainous Aba prefecture of Sichuan Province.
In recent weeks, Woeser has posted on her blog photos and information about self-immolations, as well as the tightening of security in Tibetan areas. Her willingness to openly confront authorities makes her stand out among Tibetans.
For more than a week, the writer’s home has been guarded by security agents who say she must ask permission to go anywhere. They prevented her from receiving a cultural award last week at the Dutch ambassador’s residence in Beijing.
Woeser signed the appeal against self-immolation with Gade Tsering, another China-based Tibetan poet, and Arjia Lobsang Tupten, an exiled Tibetan Buddhist teacher based in the US.
“Tibetans must cherish life and live with resilience. Regardless of the magnitude of oppression, our life is important, and we have to cherish it,” they said.
Their statement said Tibetans could challenge oppression only by staying alive.
“Staying alive allows us to gather the strength as drops of water to form a great ocean,” it said. “It depends on thousands and more living Tibetans to pass on our nation’s spirit and blood!”
The letter also asks “monks, the elderly, intellectuals, officials, and the masses” to help prevent more immolations.
China blames supporters of exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for encouraging the self-immolations.
The Dalai Lama has praised the courage of those who engage in self-immolation and has attributed the protests to what he calls China’s “cultural genocide” in Tibet. He also says he does not encourage the protests, noting that they could invite an even harsher crackdown.
This is a sensitive time for Tibet and for all of China. China’s annual legislative session, a time when security is tightened across the country, began this week. This month is also when Tibetans mark significant anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful 1959 revolt that caused the Dalai Lama to flee, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 2008.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications