Self-immolations in Tibetan region expose Dalai Lama’s political aims

By Mi Guanghong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-21 23:08:00

Since last year, there has been a constant stream of cases of young Tibetans in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, dying after setting themselves on fire.

Regarding these self-immolation incidents, some media have revealed details of these cases and shown to the public the plot being hatched by the Dalai Lama group, which deliberately creates an atmosphere of terror to attract the attention of the international community and chases its political purposes by using the lives of young people.

In an interview in July 2012 with the Hindu, a popular Indian newspaper, the Dalai Lama called self-immolation "a very, very delicate political issue."

Some Tibetans in China accuse the government of eroding their culture and repressing their religion. However, in Tibetan region, one can see many cultural facilities and activities. Local authorities have provided insurance for monks and invested in public religious infrastructure projects.

As China becomes an increasingly diverse country, officials have acknowledged that only a diverse cultural environment can lead to the prosperity of Chinese culture as a whole.

China knows the significance of respecting and protecting the right to religious freedom. Only when abrupt incidents take place and the situation threatens social stability will the government take action.

The Dalai Lama group makes false charges against the Chinese government and incites young people to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their so-called religious freedom.

Due to their historical roots and religious doctrines, many ordinary monks, especially young people, worship the Dalai Lama.

Some can easily be instigated and very seldom listen to other voices. They are innocent and in the prime of their lives, which makes their sacrifice so distressing.

Self-immolation goes against humanity and religious principles. "Compassion" and "ahimsa (no killing)" are the core values of Buddhism.

In its thousands of years of tradition, Buddhism has required its believers to keep compassion in mind, cherish their lives, and treat life with the greatest kindness. The act of inciting suicide and providing conditions for suicidal behavior is a grave sin.

If, as the Dalai Lama claims, Tibetans are living in misery, could those self-immolation cases give people there a better life?

Some followers of the Dalai Lama believe that self-immolation is the highest nonviolent form of expressing resentment against government rule.

However, it is worth noting that self-immolation not only does serious harm to those who commit it, but also brings fear to others and causes social panic.

The Internet era has made the methods of religious missionary work more diverse. The Dalai Lama group has made use of the far-reaching nature of the Internet.

Each time a self-immolation case occurs, Dalai followers upload frightening pictures to spread the pernicious influence of the act and manipulate facts so as to achieve their own political aims.

Such behavior hardly represents the mainstream view of Tibetans, though.

It is highly expected that pious practitioners of Buddhism will promote the right view of life to its believers, help them make a distinction between right and wrong, and ensure their lives are not ruined by distorted Buddhist precepts and doctrines.

The author is a scholar of religious studies based in Beijing.

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