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China: Last Words of 19 Tibetans Who Committed Self-Immolation

[All links lead to Chinese-language websites unless otherwise noted.]

On November 17, 2012, the number of self-immolations since February 2009 committed by Tibetans in protest of Chinese rule of the Tibet Autonomous Region reached [en] 79. Even though United Nations human rights chief has finally spoken out and urged [en] the Chinese government to address the grievances of Tibetans, discussion about the religious and cultural oppression of Tibet as well as the the rash of self-immolations by Tibetans continues to be banned in the online and offline public sphere by the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) [en] because of its political sensitive nature.

Dissent writer Woser, who reports on the human rights situation in Tibet, has collected 19 last wills and testaments of Tibetans who self-immolated to help people understand their grievances.

Nyankar Tashi's last words. Image from Woeser.

1. Songye Tsering (桑德才让), a 24-year-old herdswoman, self-immolated outside the local government in Zeku County, Qinghai Province on November 17, 2012:

西藏没有自由,达赖喇嘛尊者被禁止返回西藏,班禅喇嘛被监禁在狱中,另有无数个西藏英雄相继自焚牺牲,因此,自己不想活在这个世上,活得也没有意义。…我们是雪狮的儿子,红脸藏人的后代,请铭记雪山的尊严。

There is no freedom in Tibet, His Holiness Dalai Lama is forbidden to return home. Panchen Lama [the second highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama] is in prison. Numerous Tibetan heroes have made the sacrifice of self-immolation. I don't want to live anymore, there is no meaning in living… We are the son of Snow Lion, the offspring of red face Tibetans. Please remember the dignity of Snow mountain.

2. Nyankar Tashi (娘尕扎西), 24 years old, self-immolated on November 24, 2012 in Tongren County, Qinghai Province. He left a letter to Dalai and Panchen Lama as well as to six million Tibetans:

西藏要自由、要独立。释放班禅仁波切,让嘉瓦仁波切返回家园!我自焚抗议中国政府!父亲扎西南杰为主的人,不要为我悲痛,随佛法,行善事,我的希望是,六百万藏人要学习母语、讲母语,穿藏服,团结一致。

Tibet needs freedom and independence. Release Panchen and let Dalai return home. I self-immolate to protest against the Chinese government! Father, please don't be disheartened because of me. I follow the Buddha and Goodness. My wish is that six million Tibetans will learn their mother tongue, wear Tibetan clothes and be united.

Tingzin's portrait. Image from Woeser.

3. Tingzin (丹珍措), 23-year-old herdswoman living with her parents and her six-year-old son, self-immolated on November 7, 2012 before the 18th National Chinese Communist Party Congress in Tongren Province. She left her last words to her father:

阿爸,我们藏人真难啊,连嘉瓦仁波切(尊者达赖喇嘛)的法像都不能供养的话,那是真的没有自由了……

Father, being a Tibetan is so difficult. We can't even say our prayer to Dalai Lama's portrait. We have no freedom at all…

4. Lhamo Kyap (拉莫嘉), a herdsman in his 20s with two young daughters, self-immolated on October 20, 2012 near Bora Temple in Xiahe County, Gansu Province. A Tibetan friend of Lhamo recorded the details of a conversation he had with him on the date of Lhamo's self-immolation:

拉姆嘉“通过电话对他的一位好友表示,能否到博拉寺接他,而他的朋友回答说,因为自己没有摩托车可能无法接应后,拉姆嘉表示,哦,那没关系,今天下午或许你会听到一个消息。拉姆嘉还对他的好友提问说,中国的十八大会议什么时候召开?并最后叹气说,这中国(藏语:加)真不让我们过一个安心的日子后,挂断了电话。”

Lhamo Kyap asked his close friend in a phone conversation if he could pick him up at Bora Temple. His friend said that he did not have his motorbike with him and might not be able to help. Lhamo said, it's OK, today you may hear news. He asked if his friend knew when exactly the 18th Congress of the CCP would take place. He sighed, China does not allow us to live in peace. Then he hung up the phone.

5. Dhondup (頓珠), a 61-year-old herdsman, self-immolated on October 22, 2012 at Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County, Gansu Province. According to Voice of Tibet:

他“经常呼吁拉卜楞寺僧人和当地年轻藏人不要选择自焚,要留住生命,为民族未来事业作出努力和贡献。公开表示自己和老一代人在1958年和1959年期间,曾遭受中共政府的迫害和折磨,因此,他和其他年事已高的老一代人才应该选择自焚等。”

He used to tell other monks from Labrang Monastery and young Tibetans not to self-immolate. Live their lives and contribute to the future of Tibet. He said that his generation had been prosecuted by the Chinese Communists back in 1958 and 1959, so his generation should choose to self-immolate.

6. Gudup (古珠), a 43-year-old Tibetan writer, self-immolated on October 4, 2012 in Biru County, Tibet. He left his last words in an update to his QQ account, a popular Chinese social networking site. Below is an excerpt:

达赖喇嘛尊者提倡非暴力中间道路政策,努力争取自治权利,为此境内外600万藏人也一直遵从尊者的教言长期期盼,但中共政府不仅不给予支持和关注,反而提及藏人福祉的人都会遭到监禁和无尽的酷刑折磨,更严重的是污蔑达赖喇嘛,只要不承认西藏是中国的一部分,将会遭到暗杀或失踪,藏人的福祉利益根本置之不理,因此,为了见证和宣传西藏的真实状况,我们要把和平斗争更加激烈化,将自身燃烧呼唤西藏独立之声。

His Holiness Dalai Lama advocates for a non-violent middle-way policy for the right to Tibetan autonomy. Six million Tibetans have been following His Holiness’ teaching. But the CCP shows no support. Instead, they arrested and tortured those who demand Tibetan's rights. They defame Dalai Lama and when anyone does not recognize Tibet as part of China, they will disappear or be assassinated. They don't care about Tibetans and in order to let the world know about the real situation in Tibet, we have to radicalize our peaceful action, voice out Tibetan independence by lighting up our bodies.

7-8. Tenzin Kedhup (丹增克珠), a 24-year-old herdsman and a former monk. Ngawang Norphel (阿旺诺培), 22 years old. They self-immolated together with the Tibetan national flag in Chindu County, Qinghai Province on June 20, 2012. They recorded their last words together:

对我俩来说,没有能力从西藏的宗教和文化上出力,在经济上,也没有帮助西藏人民的能力,所以我俩为了西藏民族,特别是为了达赖喇嘛尊者能够永驻世间并且尽快返回西藏,而选择了自焚的方式。告知和我俩一样的西藏青年们,我们希望而且也相信大家会立誓,永远不在藏人间进行内斗,要团结一致,守护住西藏的民族赤诚。

We do not have the ability to help Tibetan's religion and culture. We do not have the economic means to help other Tibetans. For the sake of our Tibetan race, in particular for the return of His Holiness Dalai Lama to Tibet, we choose self-immolation. We want to tell all the Tibetan youth, swear to yourself, never fight against each other, among Tibetans, we have to be united and protect our race.

9. Tamding That (旦正塔), a 64-year-old herdsman, self-immolated at Jainca County outside a military office in Qinghai Province on June 15, 2012. He left a short note:

皈依三宝,
祈愿世界和平。
祈愿尊者达赖喇嘛回归故里。
为了守护西藏国,
我将献身自焚。

Rely on three treasures [Buddha, Buddhist Law and Monk]
Wish for world peace,
Wish for His Holiness Dalai Lama to return home.
Protect the Tibetan State,
I self-immolate to contribute [to the wish].

Rechok's portrait. Image from Woeser.

10. Rechok (日玖), a 33-year-old herdsman with three children, self-immolated on May 30, 2012 near the Grand Lamasery of Dzamthang, Sichuan Province. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights received his last words on August 18:

祈愿世界和平幸福。为了使尊者达赖喇嘛能够返回西藏,請不要纵容自己恣意地屠宰或交易牲畜,更不要偷盗;藏人要说藏語,不要打架。我愿为一切苦难的有情众生承担痛苦。如果我落到中共当局的手中,請不要反抗抵制。大家要团结一致,学习文化知识,家人不要为我的自焚感到伤心。

Wish for world peace and happiness. Please don't indulge yourself in killing and selling animal stocks, don't steal for the sake of His Holiness Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. Tibetans should speak to Tibetans and should not fight each other. I am willing to take up the pain and sufferings of all living beings. If I fall at the hand of the Communist Party of China, please don't resist. We have to be united and learn our culture. My family, don't be disheartened by my self-immolation.

11-12. Soinam (索南), a 24-year-old student. Choephak Kyab (曲帕嘉), a 25-year-old student. The two self-immolated near the Grand Lamasery of Dzamthang, Sichuan Province, at different spots on April 19, 2012. Their last words was released on YouTube. Below is an excerpt:

藏民族是有着与众不同的宗教和文化、慈悲和善良、有利他之心的民族,但是,藏民族受到中国的侵略、镇压和欺骗。我们是为了藏民族没有基本人权的痛苦和实现世界和平而点火自焚的,我们藏民族没有最基本人权的痛苦比我俩自焚的痛苦还要大。

Tibetans have distinctive religion and culture. The nation believes in love and compassion, with respect to others. However, Tibet has been invaded, repressed and cheated by China. We self-immolated for our misery and lack of basic human rights, as well as for world peace. The suffering of Tibetans deprived of basic human rights is much greater than our self-immolation.

13. Sobha Rinpoche (江白益西), a 27-year-old exiled Tibetan from Dawu County, Sichuan Province, self-immolated in Delhi a protest against the Chinese president's visit to India on March 26, 2012. Below is an excerpt of his last will:

同胞们,为未来幸福和前景我们要有尊严和骨气。尊严是一个民族的灵魂,是寻找正义的勇气,更是未来幸福的向导。同胞们,寻求与全球民众同等的幸福,必须要牢记尊严,大事小事都要付出努力,总而言之,尊严是辨别是非的智慧;

自由是所有生命物的幸福所在,失去自由、像是在风中的酥 油灯,像是六百万藏人的趋向,如果三区藏人能够团结力量必会取得成果,请不要失去信心;

My fellow Tibetans, for the future of our happiness, we need to have dignity and courage. Dignity is the spirit of a nationality, the courage for justice, the compass leading to future happiness. My fellow Tibetans, to seek the same happiness that is shared by all people in this world, we have to remember our dignity and make an effort in all matters. Dignity is the wisdom to distinguish right from wrong.

Freedom is the path to happiness for all living beings. Without freedom, we become a candle flame in the wind, the fate of six million Tibetans. If Tibetans from the three autonomous regions can be united, we will have won an accomplishment. Please don't lose your faith.

14. Tsering Kyi (才讓吉), a 19-year-old student, self-immolated in a market in Maqu County, Gansu Province on March 3, 2012. According to a reporter's account:

一月初,才让吉在与她的一个亲戚谈到一连串的自焚事件时表示,她很理解他们为什么要这样做。‘没有人可以像这样继续生活下去。’

Back in January, Tsering Kyi discussed self-immolations with one of her family members. She said she understood why those people had chosen to do so: “No one deserves to live like this”.

15. Nya Drul (朗卓), an 18-year-old student, self-immolated on February 19, 2012 in Camtang County, Sichuan Province. He wrote his will in the form of a poem:

昂起你坚强的头,为朗卓之尊严。
我那厚恩的父母、亲爱的兄弟及亲属,我即将要离世。
为恩惠无量的藏人,我将点燃躯体。
藏民族的儿女们,我的希望就是,你们要团结一致。
若你是藏人要穿藏装,并要讲藏语,勿忘自己是藏人;
若是藏人要有慈悲之心,要爱戴父母,要民族团结,要怜悯旁生,珍惜动物生命。

Keep your courageous head up, for my dignity.
My parents to whom I owe their deepest love, my dear brother and family, I have to leave this world.
For my compassionate Tibetans, I will light my body.
My wish for Tibetan sons and daughters, you have to be united.
If you are Tibetan, you have to wear Tibetan clothing and speak Tibetan. Don't forget you are Tibetan.
If Tibetans are compassionate, love your parents and be united. Treasure the lives of all living beings and animals.

16. Sobha Rinpoche (索巴仁波切), 42 years old, self-immolated in a square in Gade County, Qinghai Province on January 8, 2012. His last words, which are accessible here, reaffirmed his religious faith:

如佛陀当年舍身饲虎一般,其他牺牲的藏人同胞也是如我一般,为了真理和自由而舍生取义。

Like Buddha who gave his body to feed the tiger. Those Tibetans who sacrificed their lives shared my purpose – we give up our life for justice, truth, and freedom.

17. Tenzin Phuntsog (丁増朋措), a 41-year-old peasant and former monk, self-immolated in front of the district government in Qamdo County, Tibet, on December 1, 2011. He left behind four notes. Below is his last note:

想到整个西藏和今年噶玛寺的苦难,我无法继续活下去空等。

Whenever I think of Tibet and the suffering of Karma Monastery, I can't continue my life waiting.

18. Phuntsog (彭措), a 19-year-old monk at Gulden Temple, self-immolated in Ngawa County, Sichuan Province on March 16, 2011. According to an interview with other monks in the Temple, he told them:

我无法继续忍受心中的痛苦,2011年3月16日我将向世人表现一点迹象。

I can't bear the pain in my heart. I will leave behind some trace for the world on March 16, 2011.

19. Tapey (扎白), a 20-year-old monk in Gulden Temple, self-immolated on February 27, 2009 in Ngawa County, Sichuan Province. According to an article published on June 2, 2012 [en] in The New York Times, Tapey left a note behind saying he would kill himself if the government stopped an important prayer ceremony that very same day.

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  • http://twitter.com/tenzinphuntsok2 tenzin phuntsok

    OM MANI PADME HUM., OM MANI PADME HUM , OM MANI PADME HUM…

  • Maggie

    May they rest in peace and may the teaching on compassion and wisdom be shared and realized by the Chinese Communist Party and the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1340164506 Nick Pearson

    This makes me SO SAD. As someone who has been deeply familiar with the historical relationship between Tibet and China over the centuries–I wrote a paper on the subject while at Columbia University in the 60′s–the realization that the state of the occupied Tibetan nation has reached this point is very depressing. China’s colonial occupation will eventually fail when the Communist dynasty falls apart due to corruption. Meanwhile the Tibetan people continue to suffer under a foreigner’s yoke.

  • Lobsang Choephel

    May the wishes and prayers of Tibetan Martyrs be fulfilled. Dictators of China cannot kill the spirit of Tibetan. We are against the repressive policy against Tibetan people. Allow the independent foreign media and fact finding delegations into Tibet, withdraw all the heavy military placed in Tibet immediately.

  • sharon osel

    Tibet! the Tibetan People! My heart join with yours. One earth. One heart. We are one. Guru Pema Siddhi Hung!

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  • Brad

    God bless these Tibetans. God bless Tibet. I pray for a miracle for Tibet, and for China.

  • Rob G

    May all beings everywhere
    Plagued by sufferings of body and mind,
    Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
    By virtue of my merits.

    May no living creature suffer,
    Commit evil or ever fall ill.
    May no one be afraid or belittled,
    With a mind weighed down by depression.

    May the blind see forms
    And the deaf hear sounds.
    May those whose bodies are worn with toil,
    Be restored on finding repose.

    May the naked find clothing
    The hungry find food
    May the thirsty find water
    And delicious drinks.

    May the poor find wealth,
    Those weak with sorrow find joy;
    May the hopeless find hope,
    Constant happiness and prosperity.

    May there be timely rains
    And bountiful harvests;
    May all the medicines be effective
    And wholesome prayers bear fruit.

    May all who are sick and ill
    Quickly be freed from their ailments.
    Whatever diseases there are in the world,
    May they never occur again.

    May the frightened cease to be afraid
    And those bound be freed;
    May the powerless find power
    And the people think of benefiting each other.

    For as long as space remains,
    For as long as sentient beings remain,
    Until then may I too remain
    To dispel the miseries of the world.

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