By Yining Su
Image credit: @alexcreative.
If you haven’t been paying attention from news coming out of Tibet, you’ll be happy to read in Xinhua that no one, absolutely no one whatsoever, has ever self-immolated in Tibet, according to a regional party official.
But wait! What about the widely reported fact that over 100 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule since 2009? What about the many striking images and videos of these horrific suicides?
Are Xinhua and Padma Choling, the official quoted in the Xinhua story, saying that these well-documented cases of self-immolation did not happen?
Xinhua does say that “multiple deadly self-immolation cases have happened since 2011 in regions predominantly inhabited by Tibetans in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces.” It’s just that none have happened in the actual Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Perhaps the Chinese government and its news publications have come to agree with us that its response to the self-immolations has not worked, and have decided that their new tactic should be to play down the whole thing by emphasizing that all the immolations have occurred outside of the TAR.
Not only would it be a seriously terrible strategy to gloss over the fact that over 100 Tibetans living outside of the TAR have burned themselves to death, the claim that no one has ever self-immolated inside the TAR turns out to be false anyway.
In May 2012, the AP reported that two Tibetans self-immolated in Lhasa.
Moreover, according to a well-researched fact sheet assembled by a Tibetan pressure group, there have been six other self-immolations inside the TAR. They even have a handy map to illustrate where all the self-immolations have happened.
Whatever one may think of the self-immolations – that they are heroic, tragic, a mix of the two, or the fault of the evil Dalai Lama – surely everyone can agree that avoiding the issue will not solve the problem or its underlying causes.