February 13~19, 2012
Exiled Tibetans remember fallen heroes and urge world action on oppression in Tibet
Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong
Written by Lydia Ma
According to reports from Tibet, 1 person died from self-immolation in 2009 in Tibet as Tibetans fought for their human rights but the number surged to 13 in 2011. Now, barely two months into the year 2012, there are reports that 7 Tibetans have already set themselves on fire and died in their attempt to fight for freedom in Tibet.
For exiled Tibetans around the world, February 8 is a day set aside to commemorate Tibetans who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and Tibetans around the world either held a vigil or a rally to raise awareness about martial law and oppression in Tibet under the hands of China’s People Liberation Army.
Exiled Tibetans living in Taiwan held a candlelight prayer service in the evening of February 8, 2012 at National Taiwan Normal University Park to raise awareness in Taiwan about the dire situation in Tibet and in support of other Tibetans doing the same around the world.
Commenting on this event, Taiwan’s Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Chairman Tashi Tsering fired a broadside at Taiwan’s newly-reelected president for reneging his promise of speaking out on behalf of oppressed Tibetans to express his concern. According to Tsering, President Ma Ying-jeou has remained silent in spite of stories of self-immolation in Tibet and such a gesture is an intentional act from Ma’s part to please and side with Beijing.
Just 2 days before this vigil, there was news that 3 more protesters had set themselves on fire as a protest against Chinese repression. Their quest for cultural and religious freedoms and their stories finally caught the attention of many world leaders and average citizens who spoke up. In contrast, the Taiwanese government has remained silent, said Tsering, a tell-tale sign of either a China-leaning government or a government that doesn’t know much about human rights.
According to reports, a few governments around the world have already spoken out for Tibet. The Italian legislature passed a bill on February 8, urging Beijing to stop the clampdown. Meanwhile, the Canadian parliament has urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address this issue in an upcoming 4-day visit to China.
Commenting on the unrest and the large number of self-immolations in the past 2 years, Tibet’s exiled government representative in Taiwan. Dawa Tsering, said that Tibet is currently under Martial Law and all communication with the outside world has been interrupted. His sources tell him that 21 people have already died this year by setting themselves on fire and at least 6 or 7 of them were shot while immolating themselves. He predicted that the number of casualties now is most likely higher.