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Tibetan Struggle – A Mother Burns herself in protest

There was an A4 sheet of paper sitting on the reception at our hotel and written by a Tibetan person seeking help in developing his English skills in order that he might eventually become a translator. I decided to contact him or her and offer my limited time and skills to help and so met him over a coffee.

Escape from Tibet

Quite simply he is about 30yrs old and his story is a harrowing one. It covers his escape from Tibet through the mined border into India, his search for work where little was on offer and his unwavering determination to learn English in order to make good and eventually be able to return to his family in Tibet. Without any official schooling and the help of English speaking volunteers he has become very reasonable in his speech but despite this, he has still been prevented by the Chinese authorities from re-entering his country to see his family and has remained ostracised for the past 7 years.


His intent is to maintain the writings and teaching of his beloved Tibet but is concerned that most of the traditional literature has been destroyed by the Chinese regime. I shall make a very small contribution to his cause by offering to correct and rework some of his writings for him but this offer quickly slid into a different perspective once I had visited the Tibet Museum in McLeod Ganj and understood what he had actually been through.

Tibetan Museum

DSC06828The Tibetan Museum in McLeod Ganj, India, is also in the same complex as the residence of the exiled 14th Dalai Lama. Our visit to the sparse museum turned out to be a very humbling experience and I was shocked at my complete lack of knowledge with respect to the sufferings experienced by the Tibetan people at the hands of the Chinese. One huge example of my ignorance was total unawareness that

over 1.2M Tibetans were killed as a consequence of the Chinese invasion and the suffering continues.

I am not someone naturally drawn to support one cause or another and being from Belfast in N Ireland, I have seen and experienced my own share of difficult brutal times but today a series of experiences which have completely galvanised my thoughts.
In one half of a day I had my eyes splashed with the vinegar of realisation… but there was more to come…

A quiet beer? No

the crowd gathers to recognise a sacrifice and a candle vigil marks the occasion.
the crowd gathers to recognise a sacrifice and a candle vigil marks the occasion.

As we just headed for a relaxing beer before dinner there was a congregation of people in the small “square” in McLeod Ganj….and it appeared to be Tibet related. I figured this must be some anniversary which was being, correctly, perpetuated but when candles were being passed amongst all the gathering crowd it become apparent that there was more to this scene. Earlier in the day, at the museum, I became aware for the first time of a new word ….immolation…. which means the self burning of a person in an act of martyrdom to a cause. I had also become aware that there had been 114 such acts by young Tibetan monks and students since the invasion of Tibet by China.

I assumed that this was a historical and yet none the less horrific fact; today; this evening; as I sat down to sip on a cool beer I discovered that the history was still in the making…

(the image used in the post header is of another who sacrificed their life and is taken from one of the tribute journals in the Tibetan Museum)

A Tragic Protest

This was her protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and I felt sick, tired, sad and distraught for her family and 3 yr old daughter and physically shocked to the core. I was in the residence of the Dalai Lama only this afternoon coming to terms with the calm, forgiving, teachings of this remarkable leader and yet have now to comprehend the trauma and struggle being endured by his Tibetan followers; how bad must it get that a young woman and mother could sacrifice her life and leave behind a baby daughter, husband and family to highlight their plight?!!

Sad victims of the Tibet/Chinese Struggle
Sad victims of the Tibet/Chinese Struggle

What to think?

I took part in just a small way in the candlelit vigil but this has been a day in India which I will never forget, I can only now resolve to help in some small way, a young Tibetan man help his own people and I will certainly be very sympathetic to the Tibetan cause from now into the future….but more….I’m sad …sad at the continuing loss.

If you hold a view with respect to the tragic events today and in the past please feel free to add comments below and please “like” the post and do tick the social buttons (facebook twitter etc ) to bring this to the attention of your friends.

Kind regards Gary   🙁

Any questions or feedback can be directed to the comments section below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  :-D

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About Gary

I represent the 50+ age group of travellers and travel writers on this site. After 30yrs in the Air Force and further years in big business I have twice jacked in highly paid jobs to travel extensively...read how I done so here. In this past year alone I will have travelled to and lived for substantial periods of time in Greece, Greek Islands, Italy, India, Nepal and Thailand and will be posting articles about these places on this site. I am very open to any questions relating to travel, wwoofing, housesitting, house renting, art and spiritual matters so feel free to contact me directly

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