My Appeal to Stop the Immolation, Please.

Like all Tibetans, I’m deeply saddened by the spike in self-immolation by monks this year in Ngaba and other regions of Tibet and the latest tally is the eleventh this year alone, bringing the total to twelfth with the latest in exile in India by a lay person and also a first. There was even an attempted immolation by a woman in Kathmandu, Nepal, few days back. These immolations are really getting out of control.

I’m nobody and I’ve nothing to offer. I’m just a concerned compatriot who finds all these acts very disturbing and wrong at the same time. I had wanted to write on this situation for sometime but I kept procrastinating. Anyway, I’m writing this article based on my own views of what is right and wrong as the morality matter most to me and the article is simply about that, nothing more. I’m also not an expert on morality or whatsoever, but with constant questioning in mind since childhood and use of logic and common sense, etc, I’ve to come to my own conclusion about what is morally correct and vice versa. I’m just a layperson. My writing is casual and I prefer to keep it that way as I hate rules. I don’t like to conform for no reason.

I had feared this increasing trend in self immolation right from the beginning, and its happening now, and someone (a public figure) should discourage the monks from doing so. Maybe, they are silent because they have more to lose or their position in society is precarious to make such statement for the ripple effect it would have. I had also never approved the act of self-immolation from the beginning when monk Thupten Ngodup lit himself on fire in 2008 because I regarded it as a sin from moral perspective and that, it is not the right way of fighting for our cause. Being a Buddhist monk and nun, perhaps they maybe fully aware of the consequences of committing a sin and their actions, and yet chose to do so as the last ditched effort for the freedom struggle, but it is still not the right way as it involves a negative actions.

I may hesitate commenting on Thupten Ngodup actions as he was older and wiser, but rest of the monks were quite young in their teens, therefore, I do question their actions as to whether they were fully aware of all the rights and wrongs or did they just follow in the footsteps of Thupten Ngodup without much consideration. I know giving up your own life is hard and not an easy decision to come to, but somewhere in my mind, I still question it. Anyway, the monks actions maybe a selfless act but its still negative and its still a sin. Its akin to justifying the use of violence indirectly as both are negative.

I also find this act of immolation too extreme. It is an act of desperation. I’ve mention in my Facebook status before and i want to say it again that moderation should be our guiding principle, as taught by Buddha. Being the monks, they should be know it better. In my case, I support Rangzen and I don’t view it as radical as freedom is our birth right and it cannot and should not be compromised under any circumstances.

The much talked about Arab Spring of 2011 started with the single act of self-immolation in Tunisia and it maybe seen in a good light as it roused the people to fight up for justice finally after long years of living under injustice, but the approach of such act is to give a violent jolt to the people to wake them up rather than gradually inspiring them through positive means like leading from the front like Gandhi. It is like this question, why does only the tragedy bring people closer, and why not through some positive events? Both the immolation and tragedies are effective in uniting people, but the question is, does it have to be that way? Its also similar to child rearing approach. Does the child really need a spanking to learn from mistake when it can be taught through love and affection? Both will work, but with the latter, his/her psychology will not be harmed, it will instead flourish. The positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement. So I guess, the main topic of my article is the approach, not the result because when the approach is right, the result will take care of its own. Its like in the 3 idiot movie, if you pursue excellence, success will take care of its own because success is the result, the outcome, not the process.

I read Woeser’s article ‘Tibet is Burning’ on Phayul, stating that the bigger underlying reason for such extreme act by monks is to wake people up and also to stand up by themselves in defiance to the atrocities and also to make the world aware of terrible human right conditions on china. She also says that these acts are more constructive than destructive in nature. I understand all of these but I still do not approve of the approach. Whether killing someone or killing yourself for whatever reasons, it is still a form of violence and a violence is a violence, period. Non-violence means avoiding any form of violence at all cost. I also like to support anything that forms a greater cause but not this one. This is just against my belief as it involves some sort of violence.

I may contradict myself on the basis that violence is best used as a last resort when all the means of non-violence are exhausted and fifty years of oppression is a very long time and now, we are really on the boiling point, hence the justification for the acts of self immolation, but my heart still doesn’t want me to accept it. I’m unable to bring myself to the justification of these acts. There is a limit to everything, so is the limit to logic. In my own case, I think we can still carry on with our non-violence and not all the means are exhausted. With new generation comes new ideas, new approach.

I personally (from an exile point of view) haven’t given up on our struggle, hence I don’t see the need for an act of desperation, but for those in tibet, the situations they are experiencing first hand maybe vastly different, which called for such act. I do sympathize with my country fellows in Tibet, but only they can feel the true pain of living under the oppression everyday for the past fifty years.

Lastly, the act of self immolation has to stopped. Its just not right, a simple answer and nothing complicated about it. I beg the monks and all the Tibetans to refrain from immolation. I keep hoping that every act will be the last, but they aren’t. As a result, I really hesitate going to Phayul news everyday in fear that there might be another latest immolation incident, but then I’ve to keep abreast with the latest news on tibet.

I also want to say that the basis of my views comes from being raised in exile in a safe environment. Therefore, I really don’t know if my views would have been different had I been in those monk’s shoes. But nevertheless, they are my views and what I think is right at the moment, period.



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