DHARAMSHALA: Thousands of Tibetans gathered at the main temple here today to offer prayers and solidarity with all those Tibetans who have self-immolated to protest against China’s repressive rule in Tibet, and those suffering unimaginable repression.
The prayer service, organised by the Central Tibetan Administration was presided over by Kirti Rinpoche, the head of Kirti Monastery. Senior officials present at the prayer service include members of the Kashag and parliamentarians.
Prayers were offered for Tsultrim Gyatso, a 43-year-old monk Achok Monastery in Labrang Tashikhyil, who died after setting himself on fire in Sangchu county in Kanlho prefecture in northeastern Tibet (incorporated into China’s Gansu Province) on Thursday (19 December).
He left a note before he committed self-immolation. He wrote: “…Tibetans are driven to suffering and the treasures of Tibet are being looted under the repressive law of China. To whom can we tell the sufferings of the six million Tibetans? Thinking about these brings tears to my eyes. I have set myself on fire in fervent prayers for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, the release of Panchen Lama from the prison and the well-being of six million Tibetans.”
In his address at the prayer service today, Tibetan political leader Dr Lobsang Sangay said: “124 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since 2009. 124 is neither simply a number nor a list of names. They are human beings just like any one of us who will wish to live a complete life, if given a choice.”
Political repression, cultural assimilation, social discrimination, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction and lack of religious freedom are the primary factors driving Tibetans to self-immolation. The only way to end this brutal and grave situation is for China to change its current hardline Tibet policy by respecting the aspirations of the Tibetan people, he said.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala has repeatedly appealed to Tibetans not to resort to drastic forms of protests, including self-immolation.
The total number of Tibetans who set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese repressive rule has now risen to 124. They have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland and freedom for Tibetans.