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Western voices question Tibetan self-immolation acts


( China Daily)

Tibetan self-immolation cases have increased, but so have the questions surrounding them.

After the loss of dozens of innocent lives over the last few years, even the public opinion in the Western world has been seeing rational and unbiased voices denouncing the instigated and politically driven tragic acts.

A religion scholar at an American university has written an article entitled "Dalai Lama should condemn Tibetan self-immolations", criticizing the Dalai Lama for his vague position on the issue, and pointing out that the Dalai Lama, as a "spiritual leader", should be in a good position to stop the horrifying self-immolations from happening.

"If the Dalai Lama were to speak out unequivocally against these deaths, they would surely stop. So in a very real sense, their blood is on his hands," the scholar wrote.

La Libre Belgique, one of the biggest newspapers in Belgium, has also published an article questioning Dalai Lama's intentions for letting the tragic events happen without standing out and stopping them.

Austrian media has also said that self-immolation is closely linked to religious extremism and that the beneficiaries are the ones behind it.

Meanwhile, a German newspaper accused the Dalai Lama of repeatedly lying and criticized him for supporting self-immolation with the aim of pressuring the Chinese government and achieving political gains.

The Dalai Lama has on several occasions claimed that he would "remain neutral," but on the other hand has praised the acts as positive, saying that those people have sacrificed themselves for their religion and their people, apparently encouraging more Tibetans to follow suit.

Some Western media outlets have also pointed out that self-immolations, being an extreme way of committing suicide, fundamentally violate the doctrines of religions.

Both the media and the public said that Buddhism and Christianity alike are against suicide, and that self-immolation is a ferocious act that mostly originates from ignorance and religious fanaticism, and is not very much different from the suicide attacks of other religious extremists.

In fact, respect for life is a basic principle adhered to by all the religions. Austrian Catholic clergymen have rightly reminded us that self-immolations, which the young Tibetans carried out for an illusionary political claim, are nothing but irresponsible and abominable acts.

The attitudes of Western governments and the mainstream media are also under the scrutiny of their public opinions, which has alerted them of the values they are supposed to be upholding with regard to humanism and truthfulness.

Regarding the anti-China campaigns those governments and media have been waging, local press outlets in Austria have raised tough questions, such as: why have the Western reports on the issue always quote the "Free Tibet" movement which is well-known to be anti-China? Why the "Free Tibet" movement is always very well and precisely informed about each and every incident of self-immolation?

Some people are disappointed about the trend in Western mainstream politics that has put "politically correct" considerations before humanism and honesty.

A media outlet in Belgium said that the silence of Western governments on the issue of self-immolations is particularly noticeable and worrying, reflecting their political agenda, while Tibetan individuals have to pay with their lives.

It's worth noting that self-immolation is absolutely against the common values of all mankind and religious beliefs and should not be held hostage or taken advantage of to accomplish political objectives.

Double standards and hypocrisy in the west cost innocent Tibetan lives. Why not encourage people to live positively instead of instigating them to die?

The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.


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