Indefinite Hunger Strike Hits Day 17

 Indefinite Hunger Strike Hits Day 17

On February 22, the Tibetans around the world celebrated the arrival of year 2139. But unlike in the past, the Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet have unanimously yet implicitly agreed not to celebrate the new year, in a grand fashion. Since many Tibetans in the recent years have lost their lives, fighting for the freedom of the Tibetan people, the rest have opted out of celebrating the new year. They have chosen instead to observe it as the “Day of National Mourning”, for the lives lost in the struggle. Thousands of Tibetans from various exiled communities around the world observed the day by taking to the street, their peaceful protests against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. They are seen wearing their national costumes and heard chanting prayers for World Peace, and particularly for the Tibetans who died in the recent chain of self-immolations.
A group of Tibetans carrying Tibetan National flags, protests against the Chinese occupation of Tibet
Amid the worldwide peaceful protests against the Chinese government’s inhuman treatment of the Tibetans inside Tibet, three Tibetan refugees in New York City, NY: one monk and two laymen made a self-sacrificial decision that would forever change their lives. Right in front of the world’s most powerful international organization, the United  Nations, these three Tibetans announced their decisions to go on an Indefinite Hunger Strike.
 They had written down the reasons behind their decisions in a letter addressed to the UN. The letter appeals to the UN and the world leaders to take concrete actions against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. They  have decided not to eat until the UN passes a  resolution to intervene in China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. They have pleaded that the UN sends its mission to uncover truth on the dire and deteriorating  situation inside Tibet. They have expressed their disappointment in the lack of  fair and comprehensive media coverages on the recent self-immolations, and other forms of protests occurring inside Tibet. They expressed their concerns over the Chinese government’s treatment of the protestors, who either have ended up in the Chinese prisons or disappeared…  And today marks the 17th day since they started the hunger strike.
China has systematically cut off Tibet from the rest of the world. They fear that the world would witness their harsh crackdown on the Tibetan protestors – otherwise, why not allow journalists to Tibet? Both BBC and CNN have tried entering Tibet to report on the recent self-immolations, which numbers to more than 25 as of today. But the Chinese government stopped them from covering the stories and were forced to return even before getting near to the main sites of the protests.
Alas, who knows what the UN will do? Will they gather enough courage to take a concrete action against the Chinese government? Will they pay heed to the plight of the six million Tibetans on the Roof of the World? Will they stop the three Tibetans from dying of hunger? Yes, who knows? Maybe only China knows.
 For the time being, lets pray and hope that the world will change for better.

4 comments on “Indefinite Hunger Strike Hits Day 17

  1. Cat Yaggi says:

    I have to admit right off the bat, i don’t really know anything about China’s occupation of Tibet. That being said, I saw some similarities in your descriptions of the protests that reminded me of the arab spring protests in the middle east; specifically the instances of self-immolation. Do you think Tibet is heading for a tipping point similar to the revolutions that occurred in Egypt and Tunisia? All it took in Tunisia was one man to light himself on fire and the rest of the country rose up in a powerful way. Do you think this could happen in Tibet? Or is the mode of protest of the tibetan people to peaceful/non-violent in nature? How has China been able to occupy Tibet unrightfully for so long? Sheer military force?

    I know these are questions that probably have really complex answers so don’t feel the need to answer them all fully. I can do outside research for what you don’t feel like typing.

  2. roofofworld says:

    Thank you for comment.

    Since February 2009, 26 Tibetans have self-immolated. The most recent one occurred on March 5. But the Chinese government denies the seriousness of the situation inside Tibet. They have very often than not, labeled the Tibetans who set themselves alive as terrorists and traitors.

    Ever since China took over Tibet in March 1959, it has resorted to continuously using forces to quell the Tibetan resistance. On top of its powerful military forces, China uses other systematic tactics such as tight censorship, widespread cultural destruction, and continuous influx of Chinese migrants into Tibet, so as to stabilize its grip onto Tibet.

    1. Military Super Power: Compared to Chinese population, Tibet has approximately only six million people. By both military strength and human resource, China easily overpowers Tibet. As a result, China rather easily defeated the ill-equipped small number of Tibetan resistance armies when it entered Tibet in 1959… Nowadays, whenever there is a protest against the Chinese government, there will be thousands of armies and hundreds of military tanks deployed – within few hours – to the site. In the pictures that are smuggled out of Tibet, one can see tens and hundreds of Chinese armies walking on the streets of Tibet, among the Tibetans. These armies are watching the Tibetans on 24X7 basis. And those Tibetans who have been previously convicted of “sabotaging the national security” are treated with much more suspicion and distaste. They are often put under house arrest. Literally the Tibetans can hardly sleep in peace.

    2. Censorship: Very few Chinese really know what the Chinese government did and is doing to Tibet and its people. They are taught to believe that Tibet has been forever part of China and that anyone who says the opposite are terrorists, who wants to split up China. Personally, I think it is the utmost important that the Chinese people are aware of the plight of the Tibetans. Chinese government or more accurately the Chinese Communist Party is manipulating the facts and brainwashing its people to use its “people power” for its own gain – holding onto power for as long as they can. But for a meaningful resolution to the conflict between Tibet and China, people on both sides have to garner feeling of trusts and respect for each other. Yet the environment perpetuated by the CCP is not conducive to a friendly co-existence. Therefore for as long as the CCP denies to resolve Tibet Issue, I am afraid that unrest and protests will continue, in which many will lose their lives. So sad.

    Secondly, because the censorship is so tight in Tibet, it is not possible for the Tibetans to let the world see the oppression that they live under. Whenever the time is sensitive, China locks down Tibet. No journalists are allowed. Thus the only source of information about the situation inside Tibet are the few Tibetans who put their lives at risk to send out pictures and video footage to their exiled relatives else where. And behind the closed doors, the Chinese government suppress anyone who dares to challenge their authority with gun shots and electric shocks.

    3. Cultural Genocide/Migration: In 2006, China finished its project to build railroad, which runs directly from densely populated areas of China to Tibet. Though the Chinese government claims to having built the railroad for the prosperity of the Tibetans, in fact, it is a good strategy to bring millions of Chinese into Tibet. The Tibetans are already a minority on their own land. The Chinese government’s ambition behind sending millions of Chinese into Tibet is to gradually eradicate the Tibetan roots – history, culture, language, religion and nationality – so that one day, there will be nothing left for the Tibetans to claim as their own or they will eventually forget that there was a past – a history. It is not just a paranoiac perspective of a Tibetan, in fact, many Chinese leaders publicly declared that they are determined to abolish the Tibetan culture. They are willing to consolidate policies to assimilate the Tibetans into larger Chinese population. Their ultimate goal is hold onto Tibet forever.

    In short, for all the given reasons above and many more, it is extremely hard to predict if something like “Arab Spring” will take place in Tibet. But the Tibetans, including myself, hope that things will change for better and that ” the arc of the moral universe will eventually bend towards justice”.

    • Cat Yaggi says:

      Wow, thanks so much for all that. I have wonder more question though, why does China want Tibet? Are they exploiting it for natural resources or something of that ilk? Or do they merely want to hold it as a territory and increase their size?

  3. roofofworld says:

    You are most welcome. Thank you for your interesting in learning more about Tibet!

    And, yes, you are definitely right. They want to hold onto Tibet for both the reasons you mentioned – territorial expansion and for all the natural resources. The Tibetan people have been deeply religious for centuries and they did not think of doing anything more than farming and herding during their live times. All the natural resources were never imagined to be dug out of the earth. So when China invaded Tibet, they knew that there is a lot of things left untouched on the plateau.

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