Today’s act of self-immolation by Jamphel Yeshi, a young Tibetan in Delhi, highlights the extreme urgency of the situation inside Tibet. Thirty Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in protest in Tibet over the past two years, 17 since January of this year, and now four Tibetans in exile have also attempted to self-immolate. These acts are a direct response to the decades of violence and repressive policies that Tibetans have endured under China’s occupation, and a cry for action.
The Chinese government has responded to Tibetans’ calls for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama by locking down Tibet and intensifying its vicious attacks against the Dalai Lama. The few journalists who have managed to get into Tibet by eluding checkpoints and road blocks have reported towns and cities saturated with Chinese troops; their photos show Tibet looking like a war zone. An unknown number of monks, nuns and lay people have been arrested in recent weeks for taking part in peaceful protests, many of them rounded up from their homes at night.
China’s brutal attempts to crush Tibetans’ nonviolent resistance have only strengthened our resolve to achieve freedom. Tibetans everywhere – in Tibet and in exile – have been galvanized by the events of the past several months, and are doing everything possible to build political momentum for an international diplomatic intervention to save Tibetan lives.
The overwhelming message from Tibet is that change must come now. Thousands upon thousands of people of conscience are standing in solidarity with Tibetans in this hour of crisis, and our collective global outrage must translate into direct pressure on Beijing to withdraw the troops, stop the crackdown and address Tibetan grievances.
Executive Director Students for a Free Tibet