The real reason the Tibetan leadership does not condemn self-immolations

The opinion piece below was sent to dorjeshugden.com for publication. We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to ds@dorjeshugden.com.

 


 

By: Steve Lee

A comment from an ex-CTA (Central Tibetan Administration) insider on a TibetSun.com article reveals a rather insidious agenda brewing right in the heart of the Tibetan leadership. To date, the CTA has failed to make statements that discourage or denounce the growing trend of self-immolations occurring in India and Tibet, within the Tibetan community. Since the Tibetan leadership has failed to denounce the self-immolations, it is clear through their silence that they condone this practice. Hence they are allowing and encouraging Tibetans to kill themselves in the name of the Tibetan cause. They even glorify Tibetans who self-immolate by holding memorial services, lighting candles, calling them martyrs of the Tibetan cause and erecting statues to commemorate past self-immolations. And beyond this, the Tibetan leaders have even used self-immolation stories and statistics as garnishing for their fundraising campaigns in the West. There is blood smeared all over the donations that they have received into their fat pockets.

Comment left on the ‘Is Indian citizenship for Tibetans a threat to the Tibetan cause?’ article on Tibetsun.com. Click on image to read the comment.

How can the Tibetan leaders allow their own people to kill themselves for the Tibetan cause when the leaders are not doing nearly enough to make a breakthrough for the Tibetan cause? All negotiations with the Chinese have reached a stalemate and there are no fresh attempts or even a change of strategy in dealing with the Chinese. In other words, the Tibetan leadership have been ineffective with their policies and dealings with the Chinese leaders and the self-immolations, a manifestation of the people’s frustrations, are actually proof of this.

Tibetan activist Jamphel Yeshi, 27, runs through the Delhi streets on fire in protest of Chinese policies in Tibet.

At the end of the day, the Tibetan leaders could do much more to engage with the Chinese leaders. What government or leadership in the world celebrates the self-immolation of its own citizens instead of taking steps to prevent it? It is not as though the Tibetan leadership lacks the mechanisms to discourage people from self-immolations. For example, the Tibetan leaders have proven themselves to be extremely adept at browbeating and segregating Dorje Shugden practitioners into giving up the practice. The same methods could be applied in a positive manner towards families and friends of those who self-immolate because that would help to prevent other cases of self-immolation from occurring in the future.

In the case of Dorje Shugden practitioners, they are denied basic services such as medical care in Tibetan hospitals, access to shops and facilities, and they are ostracized by the general Tibetan populace. These behaviors by ordinary Tibetans are instigated and perpetrated by the CTA who repeatedly talk about the so-called harmful nature of Shugden practitioners. But while these actions obviously have a negative impact on the lives of Shugden practitioners, the CTA could also use the very same methods for more positive impact on their community.

By warning Tibetans that these restrictions will be imposed on the families of those who self-immolate, the CTA could potentially end self-immolations in their community altogether. Families and friends of those considering taking their own life would have a greater impetus to pressure them out of this deadly act, thereby saving everyone from the pain, suffering, and death caused by such an action. And the self-immolators might think twice about engaging in an act that brings difficulties and limitations on their loved ones. After all, since the CTA are already known for imposing such restrictions on their people, why not use the methods for something positive and worthwhile instead of negative? This way they would be protecting their people for once, instead of harming them.

A memorial for Thupten Ngodrup was erected by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) on the circumambulation path around the residence of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He was the first man in modern times who self-immolated for the Tibetan cause in 1998.

Furthermore, self-immolations in Buddhism is considered an act of killing. The act of killing is widely considered to be grave negative karma for the individual committing the act. Unless the individual has a bodhisattva motivation like that of the Buddha in a previous life who offered himself up to a hungry tigress, the act of killing has the very serious repercussion of taking rebirth in the hell realms. Now, since the Tibetan leadership consider themselves to be Buddhist (or at least led by Buddhist principles), should they not abide by this very fundamental aspect of the teachings? Why would they condone and encourage others to take their own lives? Therefore, even though they call themselves Buddhist, ultimately this is merely an attractive label used to encourage foreigners to donate to the cause. In fact, after every case of self-immolation, the CTA are said to benefit financially through donations given by foreign countries and organizations who take pity on them, as expressed in Chokyi’s comment. This is not something to be taken lightly since Chokyi claims to have worked for the CTA for over 15 years, experiencing the blatant greed of the leadership as a firsthand witness.

A list of those who have self-immolated for the Tibetan cause since 1998. The CTA could have stopped this loss of life, but instead use their deaths to line their own pockets. Click to enlarge.

At the end of the day, the Tibetan leadership should apply the necessary means to end all self-immolations and that is to make headway with their negotiations with China. So far, the Tibetan leaders have only issued statements to put down China’s actions and this has got to stop. Just like a salesperson trying to sell its products to a potential customer, a sensible salesperson would not say things to criticize or insult the customer. They would instead praise or say things to make the customer feel happy in order to make a sale. Likewise, the Tibetan leadership should stop highlighting self-immolations and instead find common ground to talk about and encourage China to reopen negotiations. After all, China’s powerful influence is growing day by day, while the effectiveness and appeal of the CTA and the Tibetan leadership is waning fast.

And so the Tibetan leadership really have to do much more and quickly before it becomes too late. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama is no longer around, the Chinese leadership at that time will no longer need or want to negotiate because they will no longer find the Tibetan leadership to be a threat. As it is, the Chinese leadership already refuse dialogue with the Tibetans despite the Dalai Lama’s international standing, so what chance will the Tibetan leadership have to reopen dialogue once they no longer have the Dalai Lama’s reputation to rely on? So rather than using self-immolation as fodder against China, if the CTA had the real motive of benefiting their people, they would actually take measures to curb self-immolations within their own community rather than using them to line their own pockets with blood-stained money. But until that day comes, on the topic of self-immolations, sadly it is not a question of if the next one will happen but when, and this constant loss of life is certainly a most tragic situation for the already-dwindling community.

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21 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. It is immoral to commit suicide especially so in Buddhism, as it is a form of killing. Yet the Tibetan authorities condone it and even praise such activities.

    Therefore is CTA really representing a Buddhist group in exile or is it just a vile group of people with the power to become rich from immoral and wrongful livelihood?

    The advice from Chokyi is so logical and sound and after 15 years working with the Kashag, he left and made something out of himself. In 15 years, Chokyi had seen enough evidence of corruption to leave his comfort of being employed by CTA and to venture out. I suppose his conscience called him to reality.

    Tibetans must no longer buy the lies from CTA and take over their own welfare and that of their future generations in their own hands.

    The opportunity is now to hold an Indian passport and escape the fate of forever dependant on CTA to take advantage of and be used without benefit to Tibetans in general.

  2. I wonder which government in the world that can think logically, with sit down and talk to a government in exile that encourage, promote and celebrate the self-immolations of her own people?

    First, encouraging and celebrating the self-immolations of your own people is falling into the same category of extremist groups which encouraging suicide bombing. You are more to be viewed or categorised as “extremist” or “fanaticist”. Which government would sit down and having dialogue with group of people like this?

    What Tibetan leaders are saying – to have dialogue with Beijing to solve the issue of Tibet, is totally contradicting to what they encourage their own people to resort to self-immolations to highlight the plight of Tibet and Tibetans.

    With that actions that contradicts each others, you are actually a party which any people or government will not have trust in.

  3. What boggles my mind is not what CTA did not do but why the Dalai Lama DID NOT ask, advise or plead Tibetans not to self immolate.

    It’s not about political sensitivity or China would twist the Dalai Lama’s words if the Dalai Lama spoke up on this issue but it’s about the Dalai Lama saying the right thing so no more lives will be lost fighting for the cause. And it’s a lost cause. Who cares what China would say? Whatever the Dalai Lama says, China would not agree – and vice versa.

    Let’s not talk about collective karma or individual karma of those who gave their lives because not all people believe and don’t subscribe to it. But people DO NOT hear the words of plea from the Dalai Lama to ask, advise or plead Tibetans to stop giving up their lives. And the Dalai Lama travels abroad and teaches love and compassion? I’m sorry, I don’t buy that anymore. China doesn’t care. Neither does any other country for no country’s government spoke out strongly or do anything about it.

  4. It’s really sad to see how a leader would allow their people to loose their life. Look at how tibetan leaders allow self-immolation and not even say a single word to stop but instead using it to get more sympathy money from the world is really sickening. This is one of the most cruel thing that happen in this modern day that everyone can witness.

    What I can’t understand is why HH the Dalai Lama also never say a single word to stop this. Why Dalai Lama can be so harsh on Dorje Shugden practitioner which never create any harm but why HH didn’t even try to say something to stop people to kill themselves?

    The world is watching the Tibetan leaders and more and more negative action revealed.

  5. The CTA is really pathetic! And to read the above makes it worse. To solicit donations in the name of those who self-immolated is really the worst I have heard of. Not to mention, erecting a monument for those who sacrificed. Perhaps they should look at the monument every day and remind themselves of the negative karma that they themselves collected from all the self-immolations. What kind of ‘government’ keeps quiet and take advantage of such things? I pity the family and friends of those who sacrificed themselves for nothing. What did they get? Nothing. Such precious human life wasted on a cause that will never happen because the CTA is not doing anything to improve their relationship with China.

    Tibetans, how would you feel if it was your family who took their life for nothing? There is no Tibetan cause. It’s just a lie from CTA to solicit more donations for themselves. Even if many of you don’t believe, observe now and demand explanations. How did they get to travel in luxury? How did they manage to be citizens of other countries while you are suffering in your refugee camp with nothing and also denied Indian citizenship application? Where did they get all those money for themselves and not for the Tibetans as a whole? You have the right to know what is going on for the sake of your own people. Now is the time to unite and stand for each other. Don’t let CTA bully you and make you think that you are not worth it. They are the ones that are not worth it.

  6. “The Tibetan leaders have even used self-immolation stories and statistics as garnishing for their fundraising campaigns in the West. There is blood smeared all over the donations that they have received into their fat pockets.”

    I am in tears, pain in my heart seeing 150 Tibetan Activists destroying their lives, scarifies for their country in the age of twenties, because they love their country so much, and someone told them, by immolation, you can free Tibet and everyone can go home. That’s how those young people being brain washed by their leaders in ISIS.

    HHDL can save these 150 people, but he didn’t. Instead of turning this immolation situation around, they encouraged them to do so because that’s CTA source of income from the world. every time when someone immolated himself, they went around the world with first class to collect millions of dollars back. Give the money to the victims? taking care of their families? Helping the poor? Naaaaa…. all kept into the leaders pockets so that they can enjoy a good life.

    Tibetan got to wake up already. After all these years, how come you do not see why your CTA always focus on doing things that harming? Since when did you see them do something that benefit the Tibetans? it’s time to get out.. stop being a fool.

  7. I do know that some of the Tibetan could have taken the so called ‘easy’ road by taking their own life, but it is action that does very little for the Tibetans. If the CTA does want to use such lives to bargain with the Chinese, at least the CTA should own up to it, that they are doing such a thing. I not saying am agreeing to the immolation, but if the CTA want to ‘profit’ from it at least have the courage to say they are supporting it.

    However the CTA just keep quiet on this matter, and try to earn more sympathy from the world community at large with every immolation. I agree with the article, the CTA could have sincerely approached the Chinese, and sincerely talk to the Chinese that there is something really wrong, thats why young tibetans are taking their own lives. yet the CTA remains unclear about the immolations, they choose to highlight what benefits them, and try to pressure the the Chinese.

  8. It is quite obvious the desperation of the people who immolated themselves. Worse is that they had placed their trust wrongly and believed in the lies of Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and his CTA cohorts. It is reminds me the era of WWII when the Japanese soldiers in loyalty would commit suicide in the name of their king. It is sad that coming from a country that held so sacred the teachings and practices of Buddha Shakyamuni to have its “Ministers” okay with suicide. Worse is the Nobel Peace Prize Holder and “Leader” of Tibetan Buddhism condones this travesty with his silence and inaction.

    As per the comment by Choyki, it does make a lot of sense that CTA “sells” suicide as their money generating programme and probably encouraged it with their “martyr” declaration of those who self-immolated. CTA sure received millions if not billions of sponsorship since their exile from sympathy but CTA should be warned that this solicitation will soon be ineffective as World Leaders turn their allegiance towards China.

    If CTA cared then they would have implement some laws against self-immolators and their families. After all, CTA had so much experiences with the illegal Ban against Lord Dorje Shugden where those who practices Dorje Shugden suffered so much until some had to give up the authentic practice just to live. And these practitioners ARE NOT doing anything wrong in peaceful practice. Whereas suicide is illegal in most civilised countries. The families of the self-immolators should also speak up against the karmically wrong death, unless they also wish for sympathy and monetary gains or they fear the consequences of speaking up. Something is terribly wrong when the value of life is not worth protecting given that CTA and their people are Buddhists. Why would CTA expect care when they are indifferent to their people? Now we see Karma arising with USA stopping their sponsorship and many countries turning away from them, even to barring the Dalai Lama from entering. If CTA don’t change, then the Tibetans in Exile should effect the change rather than just wait and see. 60 years without result is too long a wait….

  9. The message by Chokyi should serve as a wake-up call to the people of Tibet and mainly the populations of Tibetans in exile to see the true color of their questionable leader, Mr. Lobsang Sangay. It is apparent that this leadership is very busy trying to instill hatred and disharmony using Dorje Shugden as an issue to impair the already helpless Tibetan people. At the same time, could not care less when Tibetans burnt themselves to death. And as painful as it presents, each time an immolation happened, Mr. Lobsang Sangay and his team of the elite will fly first class abroad to seek donations. Using the life of naive Tibetan as the chip to get money to fatten their coffer is despicable!

    What does this say? Tibetan in exile is led by a cold, heartless and corrupted leader. How will this help the Tibetan people? It will not because nothing substantial or remotely positive had happened to Tibetans in exile under the leadership Mr. Lobsang Sangay. Instead, Tibetans in exile are slowly not being recognized by many nations. The significance of this population who rely solely on donations and hands out will sink into oblivion as soon as His Holiness is no longer around.

    Let’s have a look at the “Tibet” under the leadership Beijing, which is progressing economically as well as enjoying a greater degree of religious freedom. So, why would the world at large and people who live in Tibet want to continue fighting for a cause that brings no meaning since nothing was done about it for 60 years? Since the leaders themselves are not keen in fighting for the welfare of their people through real action, why would anyone else care?

  10. I think only CTA will ever dare to do such immoral and inhumane particularly to Tibetan people. Promoting self-immolation of their own people to get fund for the sick of surviving their organization, is pity in the sense of the organization BUT merciless to those who have risk their lives for the love of their country because of a lousy leadership. In this point, I definite think human right is the most important and prominent. We are talking about living being here. The work of CTA is really very, very, very ignorant and disappointing to Tibet. For sure they have to bare the caused they had done. Having such idiotic motives, won’t last in long run.

    On another hand, why does Dalai Lama never voice out on this tragedy? Why CTA could act violence on Dorje Shugden devotees and not taking action of self-immolation’s victim? CTA so cold hearted.

  11. All I can say that CTA is heartless. How can they see their own people self-immolate and not doing anything to stop them. What is CTA trying to proof to the world? This self-immolating action very disturbing to many people as they feel pity and pain for the person who self-immolate. Is CTA supporting this kind of act? The more self-immolation happens, CTA name is going to get from bad to worst. And worst still, they are going to stop getting funds from other countries. I wish them good luck in the decision making.

  12. I would say, there is no Tibetan cause! Come on…. everybody every country in the world know that it is impossible that China will let Tibet independent because of the ridiculous requirement that Dalai Lama asked from China decades ago. They (Tibetan) have been talking about China is inhuman, China chased Dalai Lama out of Tibet, why at first they didn’t ask, “what did Dalai Lama do that China chased him out?” So, to me, there is no Tibetan cause! It’s only a gimmick that CTA used to get money from the west! Shame at CTA, so called the “government” of Tibetan in exile, “Tibetan leadership” don’t even take care of their own people, but use them to get money, to fulfill their greed??
    And yes! The Dalai Lama, so called “King” of the Tibetan. Why don’t you stand up and say “hey, stop self immolation!” just like u shouted in your talk when u said those monk who practice Shugden should be chased out from Monastery? Why you could talk so loud about banning Dorje Shugden but you keep quiet on this??? Dalai Lama… Oh…. Dalai Lama…. you are known as the emanation of Chenrezig….. which make me wonder now, are u really??? The great compassion Chenrezig, keeping quiet seeing his own people kill them self just for the empty, forever unreachable Tibetan cause? Are u really Dalai Lama??? Sorry, I have to say this. But what the Dalai Lama did, his action, his reaction, doesn’t reflect that he’s an emanation of Chenrezig.
    Good luck? No more good luck to CTA. I would say good bye CTA!

  13. Couldn’t agree more with the writer. I am wondering why CTA and Dalai Lama hadn’t come out with a stronger statement (or did they really did any) to prevent more and more of their people self immolating. It will be just very easy for the Dalai Lama saying something like this to prevent more people getting harmed for a lost cause (sorry) instead of saying so much about Dorje Shugden. So is it fair for me to say Dalai Lama and CTA are now encouraging their people to kill.

  14. With no offend, I disagree about “self-immolation”. It is just a waste of life. This doesn’t mean I am not care about Tibetan Peoples. The sad reality is self immolations have no effect on either the Chinese Government or Western world who do not see self-immolation as a way to Free Tibet . My view is those who sacrificing themselves are not linked well enough to think and perceptions outside. If they are provided sufficient information, I think they will use their opportunity as a human to take challenge and to find a better ways for Free Tibet and help their own peoples to have less suffering.

    So , to me it is very bad that Tibetan leadership does not condemn self-immolations, A leader suppose to protect their peoples and how are you going to rely on governments who used self immolation as a political tools.
    anymore when self-immolation has been used as a politic tool,

  15. I never heard about other government at the world encourage their people self immolation except CTA. How could CTA and H.Holiness Dalai Lama keep silent watching their own people kill themselve and not do anything to fight for free tibet freedom cause and not make effect and find way to talk to China for independence. It make me more sad to know how CTA using self immolations as the campaingn in the west to received donation. All the donation has received by CTA obviously misusing by corruption

  16. It’s clear.. CTA do not care about Tibetans and taking advantages while they are sel-immolating.

    If they really care about Tibetan, they will stop them from hurting themselves and request them to participate in Tibetan cause in a better way. Let’s imagine if one of the self- immolator is Lobsang Sangay’s family member, will he keep quiet, just wait and see, and build a memorial in conjunction to show that he/she is a Tibet #hero.

  17. I ready can’t stand watching more self immolations by tibetan fight for free tibet cause yet the CTA and H.Holiness keep silent not stopping tibetan kill theselve. No other leader in the world allowing this silly action keep going on except CTA. If the truth what Chokyi has said. This is another evidence curruption by CTA using self immolations as campaingn in the west to received donation and not helping tibetan refugee in exile neither for tibet freedom cause. Tibetan in exile must woke up and see more clearly what they believe and not using by CTA as tool to solicit money. Human life is move precious

  18. It is a crime to not stop the self immolations as the government and everyone else should protect the Tibetan people. Yet they instead the CA does nothing but even let everyone know. And as it seems for the sake of money.

    According to Buddhas teachings, suicide is killing and there is nothing that justifies it. May the self immolations stop and the Tibetans find a home even if it is not what they wish for. But an independent Tibet after 60 years under China is not possible as I believe. What has not been done in 60 years will no be achieved anymore.

  19. It has been very clear on what is CTA motive all these while, they have no concern at all about their people, they have no intention at all to go back Tibet, they only use their people and their situation to play the victim card, to get more benefit and money from other countries, CTA has been corrupted since long long time ago.

    But I was surprised that why Dalai Lama did not say anything to stop self immolation, Dalai Lama is such a great person, he has promoted peace and compassion throughout his whole life, and now, it is their people going thru all sorts of suffering and in fact, killing themselves, this is very heavy karma, Dalai Lama has been discouraging killing, but he never stop his people from killing themselves. This has been my question marks for a long time.

  20. I sincerely hope that more ordinary Tibetans-in-exile will read Chokyi’s message and get into the act right now of safeguarding their own future, before it’s too late ;either get an Indian citizenship or citizenship of a foreign country immediately. It is sad to see innocent helpless Tibetans buying into the illusion of a free Tibet for them to go back to. It is an illusion because the Tibetan leadership is not taking any step to negotiate with the Chinese government.

    It is an illusion because the Tibetan leadership is allowing and condoning self-immolations as a way of deluding the Tibetans into thinking that the free Tibet cause is still much alive. In reality, these immolations are just serving to anger the Chinese Leadership even more against the Tibetans and their vain fight for freedom.

    Indeed the Tibetans currently living in Tibet appear generally to be much better off than the Tibetans in exile. What an irony.

    Self immolations must be stopped. Buddhists do not take their own lives as the karma for this is very heavy. Responsible measures must be taken to discourage and prevent more self-immolations, which are needless -just a sheer waste of lives which should have been invested in more constructive pursuits for their benefit and the benefit of others.

    It is time sponsors and donors to the Free Tibet cause see self-immolations in their true light and stop sponsoring or donating. When the Dalai Lama is advocating a Middle Way approach, why are there Tibetans self-immolating for the cause of Tibet’s Independence?

  21. See here a clear video of His Holiness the Dalai Lama asking the monasteries to expel monks that practice Dorje Shugden. Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTgYWidYw3U

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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