Ganden Monastery, Tibet. Image credit: @imsbildarkiv.
The Chinese government, demonstrating the type of forward thinking that has made it the world’s second largest economy, has now solved the self-immolation crisis, in which at least 77 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009.
How did the government pull this off you ask? Not by giving Tibetans a forum in which to air their grievances or more political autonomy (don’t be silly), but by installing firefighters at Tibetan monasteries so that anyone who does set themselves on fire doesn’t burn for long.
While a Xinhua article about the formation of an 18-man team at a Sichuan monastery, does not explicitly mention self-immolation, there is a nod to the true cause for the fire brigade, set up “following fires that have broken out with increasing frequency in recent years”.
Speaking to the Guardian, Tsering Tsomo, president of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamsala, warns of an increase in self-immolations:
The wave of self-immolations has been concentrated around the Kirti monastery, a 600-year-old temple in Aba prefecture, where monks sparked large-scale anti-Chinese riots last spring. “It looks to me like on the face of it that the self-immolations are really spreading – it’s not just about Kirti monastery anymore, it’s about the influence that Kirti has had on other, smaller monasteries,” Tsomo said.
The Chinese government previously deployed firefighters to Tiananmen Square to guard against the risk of self-immolation during the 18th Party Conference.