Dalai Lama: Self-Immolations “Very Very Sad”

The Dalai Lama on Thursday said that Tibetan self-immolations have had little impact on Chinese policies. From Reuters:

“It’s a sad thing that happens. Of course it’s very very sad. In the meantime, I express I doubt how much effect (there is) from such drastic actions,” the Dalai Lama told reporters during a visit to Australia.

[…] The Dalai Lama said the immolations were a sensitive political issue, but said Tibetans were not sacrificing their lives because of simple social or family grievances.

“I express this as a symptom of some causes of Chinese officials. They must investigate what is the cause of this symptom, of these events. It’s not the solution just to blame someone, including the Dalai Lama,” he said. [Source]

The Dalai Lama called the self-immolations “understandable” but denied recent claims by Chinese state media that he encourages the protests. His comments come in the wake of yet another incident, the 119th to take place in the Tibetan region since 2009, as Voice of America reports that a Tibetan nun set herself on fire near a monastery in Sichuan Province on Tuesday afternoon. The woman remained alive and in a hospital on Wednesday, according to Edward Wong of The New York Times.

Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia reports that a court in Qinghai province has jailed a Tibetan student leader for allegedly organizing a demonstration late last year:

Wangchuk Dorje, a student at the Middle School of Nationalities in Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was handed a four-year term for being one of the “main organizers” of the student protest, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“He was detained after several thousand students launched a peaceful rally,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Details concerning Dorje’s age, the identity of the sentencing court, and the date of his sentencing were not immediately available.

Several thousand students took to the streets in Malho’s restive Rebgong (Tongren) county on Nov. 9, 2012, to demand greater rights, including the right to use Tibetan as their language of instruction in the schools. [Source]

See also CDT’s coverage of the Voice of America documentary titled Fire in the Land of Snow, which explores the causes of Tibetan self-immolations.