03/02/2016, 16.12
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Tibet, two self-immolations against Chinese rule. 16 year old in grave condition

A Buddhist monk and a boy set themselves on fire to demand the independence of the region and the return of the Dalai Lama. March is the toughest month for the diaspora and for the Tibetans: they commemorate the many uprisings bloodily suppressed by Beijing. The Nepalese government reassures China: "Protests will not be allowed".


Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - A Tibetan Buddhist monk and a 16 year old boy set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and ask for the return home of the Dalai Lama. The priest died while being transported to the hospital, the teenager survived but is in a terrible condition: 95% of his body is covered with burns. Meanwhile, the Nepalese government has reassured China that  it "will not allow any protest" by the Tibetan diaspora during the month of March.

This time of year is especially hard for the Tibetan people, as they commemorate the many anti-Chinese uprising bloodily suppressed by the Beijing army. The first significant anniversary dates to the Maoist invasion of the province. In 1957 a rebellion broke out in eastern Tibet that spread to Lhasa in 1959. That same year, the People's Liberation Army crushed the revolt and forced the Dalai Lama to flee: March 17 the Buddhist leader left the Palace of Norbulingka disguised as a soldier and escaped to India where he formed the Tibetan government in exile.

In 1988 and 1989, again in March, hundreds of people rose up to commemorate 30 years since the Maoist repression. The insurgents were crushed by the then local Party Secretary, Hu Jintao, who later became president of the People's Republic. Among other things, via telegram, Hu was the first to compliment Deng Xiaoping for the Tiananmen Square crackdown, which occurred a few months later.

The last major uprising was in 2008. For the first time since the crackdown 20 years before, on the occasion of the Beijing Olympics, the Lhasa monasteries opened their doors to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the failed uprising against the occupation of the Beijing troops. Between 300 and 400 religious, out of two of the largest groups of study and prayer in the Tibetan capital, marched in procession demanding the release of a group of religious and lay persons arrested and the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland. Here too, the government reacted with violence: the official number of casualties is unknown, while there were hundreds of arrests.

Both monk Kalsang Wangdu – of the Retsokha monastery - and young Dorjee Tsering decided to set themselves on fire to "do something" for the cause of Tibet. The death of the religious brings to 144 the number of victims who have self-immolated since 2009 in protest against Chinese policy in the region. For his part, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly urged his followers not to sacrifice their lives but to "find other forms of protest." However, Beijing accuses the religious leader of fomenting these acts "for his personal gain."

The Chinese government is using every means possible, including diplomacy, to avoid problems with the Tibetans. Liu Guangyuan, head of the Department for Foreign Security, visited Nepal to ask Kathmandu to clamp down on possible anti-China demonstrations. Jhabindra Aryal, a high ranking Nepalese official, reassured him: "We will work to improve cooperation and shared interests. Nepal supports of the one China policy and will not allow its soil to be used against our neighbors. "

(Christopher Sharma collaborated)

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