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lunes, marzo 05, 2012

Tibet: Two Women Self Immolate

Sad and difficult to understand news from Tibet. The New York Times reports:

Two Tibetan women killed themselves by self-immolation in two different Tibetan regions of western China over the weekend, according to reports by Tibetan exile groups and Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government.

The two deaths bring the number of Tibetans who have set fire to themselves in western China since March 2011 to at least 24; at least 16 have died.

The Radio Free Asia report said that Rinchen, a 32-year-old widow and mother of three, killed herself by self-immolation on Sunday in front of Kirti Monastery in the town of Aba, known in Tibetan as Ngaba. A report by Free Tibet, an advocacy group, said Rinchen had four children.

On Saturday, a woman who attends a middle school in Maqu County in Gansu Province set fire to herself in a vegetable market, Radio Free Asia reported. On Monday, the Tibetan Women’s Association, an exile advocacy group, identified the woman who killed herself as Tsering Kyi, age 19; Free Tibet said she was 20.

The group said the two self-immolations were the first by Tibetan laywomen in Tibet’s history. Previously, only nuns or former nuns had set fire to themselves.

AP has more details:

The reported deaths came on the eve of the opening of China's annual legislative session, a time when security is tightened across the country. March is also a sensitive time for Tibet, marking several anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful revolt against China that caused Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 2008....

Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said Rinchen's self-immolation was the result of repression and attempts to assimilate Tibetans into Han Chinese culture.
"Tibetans are living under de facto martial law. China's response to protests — which are increasingly widespread — has been to intensify repression and surveillance, pushing Tibet deeper into crisis," she said in a statement.

China says it treats minority groups such as Tibetans fairly, and pours tens of billions of dollars into improving living conditions in their areas. The government has also accused the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetans of being behind the protests and self-immolations.

The message from these self immolations could not be clearer. What is more difficult by far for me is comprehending how taking one's own life aligns with Buddhism's strong belief in doing no harm and in refraining from killing.

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