DHARAMSALA, 30 Nov: Tibetans and their supporters in Dharamsala carried out a candlelight vigil on 29 Nov evening to express solidarity and support with Yonten who self-immolated in restive Ngaba county in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Led by a young Tibetan with a microphone, Tibetans and supporters, carrying lit candles, slogans and portrait of the Tibetan self-immolator, marched from the main square in Mcleod Ganj to the Martyr’s Pillar at Tsug-lag-Khang, the main temple.
Marching through the town at around 5 pm, the participants recited Jangchub Semchok prayer [Generation of Boddhisatva’s heart]:
May the precious bodhicitta
Be awakened where it has not
And where it has already been awakened
May it not diminish but grow and flourish evermore.
At the Martyrs Pillar, a minute’s silence was observed in honour of the Tibetan self-immolators and all of the Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the Tibetan people.
Gonpo Dhondup, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress briefed the gathering about the latest Tibetan self-immolation protest from inside Tibet.
Addressing the gathering, Gonpo said that with Yonten’s self-immolation protest in Ngaba region in occupied Tibet, the toll has now reached a staggering 166 fiery protests combining the protest from both inside and outside Tibet.
“What these unprecedented protests through self-immolation show is the Tibetan people’s rejection of the Chinese rule and its repressive policies in our homeland, Tibet.”
“The repressive policy of the Chinese regime in Tibet has brought hell like suffering to the Tibetans in Tibet. We have organised the candle light vigil to express our support and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tibet.”
He further described the self-immolation protests by Tibetans as being both the largest in terms of number and the lengthiest in terms of its duration globally.
Since Feb 2009, 156 Tibetans have self-immolated in Chinese occupied Tibet calling for freedom, an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. In exile, 10 Tibetan self-immolation protests have occurred since 1998.
Thupten Ngodup, (27 April 1998) and Tapey (27 Feb 2009) were the first Tibetans to self-immolate in exile and inside Tibet respectively.
As the saga of fiery protests by the Tibetans continues, Gonpa said that Tibetans in exile enjoying freedom should remember their selfless sacrifice for the Tibetan cause and that it’s the exiled Tibetan people’s duty and responsibility to honour their aspirations.
The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has described the protests as a non-violent act that doesn’t harm others while attempting to bring to notice the plight of Tibetans to the world on Friday in his address at the just concluded 14th Tibetan Religious Conference.
“We should remember these brave souls when we recite Den-Tsik-Monlam,( The Prayer of the Words of Truth)” the Dalai Lama said.
The candlelight vigil was jointly organised by Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Regional Tibetan Women’s Association, Students for a Free Tibet-India, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet and National Democratic Party of Tibet.