Bijay Kumar Minj
Tibetans from India and Nepal began a 24-hour hunger strike yesterday in New Delhi to protest at the situation in their homeland where a number of young nuns and monks have set fire to themselves.
“The deteriorating situation in Tibet has forced us to protest against the oppressive Chinese rule,” said Youdon Aukatsang, a media representative of the Tibetan Solidarity Movement.
Nine young monks and nuns are known to have set themselves ablaze in Ngaba in the northeast and Karze in the east.
Four of them are understood to have died as a result. The latest death – of a 20-year-old nun — was on October 17 near Ngaba.
Aukatsang said repression had driven them to such actions.
Around 3,000 people joined the hunger-strike in New Delhi, where news of the self-immolations prompted the Tibetan Parliament in Exile to launch a four-day protest yesterday.
The Tibetan parliamentarians are also visiting embassies and Indian leaders to tell them about the situation in Tibet.
Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, told media that tragic acts have “deeply” saddened the Tibetan Solidarity Movement.
“We are gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Tibet that has driven the Tibetans to such desperate acts,” he added.
The speaker also said his group has urged the Chinese government to respect the Tibetan people’s fundamental right to freely practice their religion.
It also wants the government to review its policies in Tibet to help fulfil local people’s aspirations “for a truly harmonious society.”
The group has also appealed China to allow international independent fact-finding delegation and media to visit Tibet and in particular Kirti Monastery.
Tibetans have sought autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution for many years.
Since 2008 when the Tibetan unrest began, the Chinese government has reportedly imposed restrictions on Tibetan monasteries in the Tibetan plateau.
These measures include security raids, arbitrary detentions of monks, increased surveillance within monasteries, and a permanent police presence inside monasteries to monitor religious activities.