Categorized | DJILP Online, DJILP Staff

News Post: US Senate Reacts to Tibetan Self-Immolations

A twenty year-old Tibetan Monk, Lobsang Sherab, self-immolated on Wednesday, March 28 in the Changsha Township of Ngaba in Eastern Tibet.  He was consumed by the flames, and his body was taken away by Chinese paramilitary troops, despite pleas by fellow Tibetans to send the body to his family.  Sherab was ordained as a monk at the age of nine, and joined Ngaba’s Kirti Monastery’s dialectic college in October of 2011.

Sherab’s self-immolation is the most recent in an upswing of self-immolations by Tibetan monks and nuns, mainly occurring in the Ngaba region.  The Chinese Government began reacting to this trend in March of 2011, after a young Kirti monk named Phuntsog self-immolated, causing a show of solidarity by the other monks at the monastery.  In April of 2011, Chinese soldiers seized over 300 protesting monks from the Kirti Monastery, who have all disappeared since the seizure.  Beijing claims that these monks are undergoing “legal education” at undisclosed locations.

The nuns and monks are reacting to Beijing’s crackdowns on protests seeking freedom for Tibet, and the return of the Dalai Lama.

All this occurs as the Chinese Premier, Hu Jintao, attends the BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India, this week.  As leaders from Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa gathered to discuss emerging issues for their nations, a Tibetan man self-immolated in New Delhi, and scores of Tibetan women took to the streets outside the Summit in the hope of bringing attention to the fate of Tibet.  By day two of the Summit, 162 individuals were detained in conjunction with the protest. Quite unusually, 100 of these detainees were women.

The Dalai Lama

The US Senate passed a resolution on Tuesday, mourning Tibetans who have self-immolated and died during recent anti-China protests, and urging Secretary Clinton to hold Beijing accountable for its crackdown on religious freedom in Tibet.  The resolution is not legally binding, but it sends a strong message to China that the US will continue to stand behind the legitimate rights of people of all nationalities to practice their religion freely.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed firm opposition to the resolution immediately after it passed, and refuted all claims that the Chinese Government does not believe in freedom of religion.  He also urged the US Senate to refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs.

The US could never attempt to enforce its religious values in China due to the prevailing international legal norm of sovereignty.  Failing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary, international law does not allow a state to enforce its norms and values in any form in the territory of another state.  A state’s title to exercise jurisdiction rests in its sovereignty.  The issue may only be resolved by the Chinese Government.

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