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In the News: (Not so much in the news) Tibetans Dying to Be Heard



Joined: 4/15/2013
Posts: 1
vanessa.chen5565
Of all the articles run by major news networks, there is maybe a small blip about the continual occurrences of self-immolation by young Tibetans. There are people barely older than us who are so desperate, who see the very identity of their country slipping away, who feel so marginalized, so silenced that they are willing to die by the agonizing burn of flame. Their only desire? To be heard. To be understood and recognized. These Tibetans, although primarily youth, come from all walks of life. They are priests, high school students, children and grandparents. All are united by a love for country and a boundless desire for international recognition.
Tibet, by all accounts was a country that was fully independent from China until the invasion by the People's Liberation Army by Communist China in 1949. Their rule began a long tradition of terror in Tibet: suppression of Tibetan culture, imprisonment for peaceful protest, economic discrimination, the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibetan lands and the list continues.
What is perhaps is most terrifying is the fact that the international community is mostly silent. Even the current Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient seems restrained. He asks for non-violent protests and his people abide by only causing pain and violence to themselves. Their voices are not enough and so they speak in the only way they have left, sacrifice.
Wangchen Kyi was 17 years old when she set herself ablaze on December 9th of 2012. She called for the long life of the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama before dying. Dorjee was just 15 years old and a Tibetan monk when he set himself on fire. It is difficult to understand what could drive a person to such lengths. I myself am 16 years old and these stories speak to me because I cannot imagine how much pain they must have endured for their ideals. I think of a 17 year old girl and a 15 year old boy and I do not understand. However I understand that they needed to be heard. I understand that by retelling their story, perhaps I have gained even a measure of their strength. I understand that these injustices are being noticed, however there seems no solutions.
Time magazine posed the question, “How Many Self-Immolating Tibetans Does It Take to Make a Difference?” It seems that there are no answers to this question. China is unwilling to change legislation and other countries cannot challenge them. There are no easy fixes. As the people of Tibet become more desperate, more fires will be lit and more life lost.
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