By Chukie Wangdu, New York
On June 16, 1963, a lone Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, set himself ablaze in an open marketplace in Siagon to protest religious persecution under the Diem regime. His action shocked the world, and precipitated the anti-war movement in the US which led to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973.
As recently as December 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouzizi, a Tunisian vegetable seller, self-immolated to protest police beatings and the confiscation of his vegetable cart. His action galvanized the Arab Spring Revolution against corruption and human rights violations that led to the fall of the region's despots.
The common thread that runs through these two episodes is public empathy. The only difference is the time it took for a resolution. The advent of digital technology played a major role in the latter.
Tibet has been illegally occupied by China for over 60 years, and the denial of fundamental human rights as well the plunder and pillage of its antiquities and natural resources have been well-documented and voiced around the world. Yet in the face of the growing number of self-immolations in Tibet, over 90 to date, the support for this cause appears alarmingly more muffled.
Is it China's economic might that has silenced politicians and the news media? Or is it due to the over-whelming guilt that people in high places are feeling for allowing their greed to override truth and not standing up to China? It is both. When one is overwhelmed with guilt, denial is often the means to alleviate the guilt. The time is more than ripe now for Tibet supporters to let the world know why Tibet should be free.
We hold the truths of Tibet's independent history and China's atrocities in occupied-Tibet. In a different world, when the People's Republic of China was not a member of the United Nations Security Council, with veto power, these truths generated UN Resolutions #1353 in 1959, #1723 in 1961 and #2079 in 1965 for the restoration of fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people and their right to self-determination. But due to greed and short-sightedness of those in political power and business during the ensuing decades, planet earth is now at risk. Let's use social media to share the ultimate truth .. that a free Tibet will help in the sustainability of planet earth. Wake up those in high places, as well as the man on the street, in China and around the world, and tell them that their very survival is dependent on a free Tibet.
Millions of unregulated Chinese factories are churning out "Made-in-China" goods while emitting toxins and pollutants into the atmosphere causing holes in the ozone layer above Tibet which are contributing to global warming, record melting of Himalayan glaciers and world climate change. The Chinese name for Tibet is "Xizang" or "Western Treasure House," and accordingly they have plundered the Tibetan plateau of its antiquities and natural resources, while keeping Tibetans under unbearable oppression.
To meet the insatiable demand for raw materials by its manufacturing base, which includes its medicinal and gourmet palette markets, China continues to conduct, in Tibet, massive deforestation, drilling for oil, fracking for natural gas, mining for precious metals, including uranium for its own nuclear plants and for probable sale to rogue states, as well as the decimation of Tibet's flora and fauna, and diverting the run-off from the melting glaciers to China thus leaving behind dry river beds and parched farmlands in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other parts of Asia. The global warming, caused primarily by China's unregulated factories, has accelerated the rate of mountain glacial melting thus assuring that the nuclear wastes, dumped on the Tibetan plateau since the 1980s, will be washed down river at a much faster rate. With its trade surplus, China has built massive dams to divert the glacial runoff to their own farmlands, which ironically, now poses a major health risk to her own people.
While Tibetans deeply believe in the interdependent nature of all living things, they cannot begin environmental healing to promote the sustainability of planet earth until China's leaders come to their senses and free Tibet. Tibetans are not sacrificing their lives because they want to live under Chinese rule. They are dying because they want traditional Tibet returned into the hands of her rightful owners. They are no longer pleading. They now are declaring. In the wake of devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and hurricanes, the time is ripe to wake up the world public.