A Tibetan monk living in western China has sent a petition to the European Parliament defending a recent wave of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule and appealing for Europe’s help in restoring Tibetan freedoms and securing the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The 21-page document, a copy of which was obtained by RFA, quotes extensively from an unpublished book, The Black Annals, written by a Tibetan monk and schoolteacher, Atsun Tsondru Gyatso, who disappeared in Chinese custody more than a year ago.
The petition, written as though sent on Gyatso's behalf, was dated May 18 and was sent anonymously from inside the Yulshul Tibetan prefecture of China’s Qinghai province, passing through several hands before arriving in Switzerland for delivery to EU officials.
After extending thanks to the organizers of a May 26 rally in Vienna, Austria, by European Tibet support groups, the petition’s author outlines numerous criticisms of Beijing’s rule in Tibet.
China’s principal objective in building railway lines and highways into the region, the writer says, is to plunder Tibet’s cultural heritage, its "art and artifacts," along with its mineral resources including gold, silver, copper, iron, and timber.
Official restrictions on the use of the Tibetan language in favor of Chinese have also eroded Tibet’s national identity, the petition adds.
“The main aim of this policy is to assimilate minority nationalities into the majority Han [Chinese] race. But this is totally against the Chinese Constitution.”
The petition also points to China’s “torturing and killing of many highly learned Tibetan lamas who have resisted China’s deceitful policies.”
'A just cause'
Referring to a recent wave of Tibetan self-immolation protests, now numbering 38, challenging Chinese rule, the petition notes, “Shouldering their responsibilities, many Tibetans have sacrificed their lives for the just cause of Tibet.”
In the latest self-immolation, a Tibetan woman set herself ablaze on Wednesday in Dzamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the epicenter of the burnings which began in February 2009.
The self-immolation came three days after two young Tibetan men burned themselves in central Lhasa in the first such case in the heavily guarded capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
European parliamentarians have frequently expressed concern for Tibet, issuing statements of support and recently organizing a conference called “Tibet in Flames” to call urgent attention to the fiery protests.
And on May 1, more than 50 lawmakers from Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas meeting in Ottawa, Canada, expressed “alarm” at China’s continuing “grave violations” of human rights in Tibet.
Atsun Tsondru Gyatso, the author of the 500-page and still unpublished Black Annals, disappeared in January 2011 after being summoned for questioning by Chinese authorities at the end of the previous year.
He was previously detained in August 2008 in the Tibetan capital Lhasa while returning from pilgrimage and was held and tortured for several months before being allowed to return to his home in China’s western Gansu province, where he established a school for Tibetan orphans.
Chinese authorities closed the school, which promoted the study of the Tibetan language, in early May of this year, detaining its two principal teachers and sending its pupils home to their relatives or to Chinese schools.
Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.