WARNING: This story contains graphic details
CBC News / Posted: Dec 20, 2012
People setting fire to themselves in Tibet has become an almost daily occurrence, a dire form of protest against what many in the autonomous territory call an oppressive Chinese influence.
In this video report, CBC News Beijing correspondent Catherine Mercier travelled undercover into the picturesque Himalayan, and mainly Buddhist, area which borders with China to the north. The disputed traditional Tibetan homeland stretches 2.5 million square kilometres and has been claimed by the Chinese for centuries.
According to advocacy groups, since 2009 almost a hundred people have set themselves on fire in protest of the Chinese administration in Tibet, and are reported to have government informants heavily monitoring monasteries.
The rate of people choosing self-immolation was almost daily last month. The Chinese government blames the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile in India.
The Tibetan government has denied any claims of its involvement, saying the Chinese forced the confessions.
In a monastery where self-immolation had occurred, Mercier spoke to several people who agreed only to speak off camera, saying they would continue to protest. Punishment for anyone caught denouncing the Chinese can be severe.
Reports say that monks are being forced into re-education sessions where they must pledge loyalty to the Communist Party. Mandarin has also crept its way into the school system in place of the Tibetan language.
But the people of Tibet are resistant to the changes, fighting to preserve their culture, and willing to sacrifice their lives to do it.