Oppression to the point where you cannot practice your own culture such as religious traditions your ancestors have been following for thousands of years. This is the extent that the Chinese Communist government has gone to commit cultural genocide against the Tibetan population in China. The Tibetans living in China have been stripped of their basic human rights, to any other sort of freedom even outside religion. Tibetans have been resorting to desperate measures to display the pain and agony they go through every day, while living under Communist rule. This includes the practice of self-immolation, where individuals willingly set themselves on fire.

In 1950, the Chinese military invaded and subsequently conquered Tibet. Since then, the Tibetan population has been participating in peaceful action, in order to get their homeland back. Peaceful protests against the occupying Chinese in Tibet have taken place from all areas of the world. They have taken place from Canada to the United States and even across China. But these peaceful protests have done little to nothing to promote awareness about the horrendous events going on in Chinese subjugated Tibet. Just recently in the past 4 to 5 years, self-immolations have started to begin in China. Due to the Communist Party in China, Tibetans are treated and watched like criminals. Chinese soldiers even go as far to infest sacred places such as Tibetan Monasteries to keep surveillance on monks. It is even a crime to have any type of image of their revered religious leader The Dalai Lama. Monks are detained, thrown into jail and often executed for worshipping this spiritual leader. “Many Tibetans feel forcibly estranged from their language, culture and religion by repressive Chinese policies”. This quote describes the feelings of many Tibetans, and is argued to represent the motivation behind self-immolations. Through self-immolations, Tibetan monks are displaying how they would rather leave this world behind than live under these repressive conditions imposed by the Chinese government.

Demonstrating the overwhelming control over Tibetan daily life, the Chinese government deploys thousands of troops in populated Tibetan regions. These troops are heavily armed and are there to minimize any hint of resistance, or any attempts of self-immolations. Another duty of these troops is to go door to door to clear out any type of pilgrimage of Tibetan Buddhism or worship of The Dalai Lama. Something like this would never occur in any civilized nation such as Canada where multiculturalism, democracy, and freedom is valued. China being such a powerhouse economically, politically and military, sanctions their power to treat the Tibetan people with such inhumanity and humiliation. With such tyrannical policies imposed by the Chinese government, it is difficult to imagine how Tibetan’s can have hope for the future, as they are basically living in the largest prison in the world.



  1. The situation between China and Tibet is an example of an extremely intense crossroads of religion and politics, and one that deserves ongoing attention. Fort that reason this post was a welcome read. The tension which goes back to the occupation in 1950 continues to manifest in new ways in the current sociopolitical climate, but what doesn’t seem to change is the ongoing attempt at “forcible estrangement from language, culture and religion” which as mentioned is being undertaken by the Chinese military in Tibet. The surveillance of sacred spaces is shocking example of the lack of any boundary of dignity involved in the situation. As a reaction to this situation, the perceived necessity of self-immolation by Tibetan monks is heartbreaking. It seems to represent the absolute extreme of the spectrum of religious protest, where violence is considered necessary but simultaneously a principle of not causing physical harm to others is upheld. As a signal and metaphor of human suffering, these fires should keep burning in our collective conscious until the social oppression which spans political and religious lines has been properly addressed. A previous generation in North America adopted “Free Tibet” as a slogan among their counter-cultural lexicon, and the promise contained within that phrase is only getting heavier as time goes on.

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