Sydney (AsiaNews) - For the Dalai Lama, self-immolations in Tibet are "a sad thing," something "very, very sad." In fact, "I doubt how much effect [. . .] such drastic actions" can have, the Tibetan spiritual leader said. Indeed, the matter is a "sensitive political issue" for which Tibetans should not sacrifice their lives, he explained at a meeting in Australia at the start of an 11-day tour of prayer meetings and conferences.
On 11 June, a Buddhist nun set herself on fire in Tawu, Kham (eastern Tibet), to protest against China's presence in Tibet and to demand the return of the Dalai Lama. With her death, the total number of self-immolations in the area reached 120 since 2009.
Since the Dalai Lama relinquished political in 2011power, Tibetans have been able to elect a secular prime minister. In face of the wave of suicides, the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala has held an ambiguous position.
On the one hand, it wants the faithful to "listen to the Dalai Lama", who is for the defence of human life at all costs; on the other, it blames China for the problem and wants the international community to put pressure on Beijing to stop repression against ethnic Tibetans.
"Even in the government, there are those who do not listen to our leader," a Tibetan source told AsiaNews. "They use self-immolation as a political tool and a lure for international donations without thinking too much about the welfare of the population. The Dalai Lama has done well to remember the true values of Buddhism, which sometimes leaders in Dharamsala downplay."
"I express this as a symptom of some causes of Chinese officials," the Dalai Lama said in Sydney. 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."
What this shows though is that, although Tibetans could "easily hurt other people," they were choosing instead "to sacrifice their own lives, not hurting others."