Yu Jie, born in Sichuan Province, China, is a writer and staunch critic of human rights violations in China. From 2005-2007, Mr. Yu served as Vice-president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. As of 2012, he currently resides in the United States, following a year spent under house arrest.
May 30, 2012, in Rangtang Township, Sichuan, once again a Tibetan woman has set herself aflame. This marks an increase in immolations in the past few months, with the current total standing at 41 (38 within Tibet, 3 without), of those, 30 died (29 domestic and 1 abroad). Among those that are dead, 6 are women – 3 nuns, 2 shepherds, and one student.
In the Chinese Communist Party-controlled media, however, not one word has been reported on this unceasing tragedy. In fact, the majority of the Chinese public simply does not care – playing mahjong as if nothing were happening, singing karaoke as if nothing were happening, trading stocks as if nothing were happening. To them, the suffering of their Tibetan neighbors might as well be occurring on another planet. Seeing as all 56 ethnic groups of China are meant to form together in one national family, how is it that news of the rising Tibetan death toll does not arouse the slightest concern within the Han community?
This is symptomatic of a neo-Nazism rising within Chinese society. When a society fails to maintain human life and dignity at the most fundamental level, they implicitly give way for dictators to do evil and harm unscrupulously. After the case of Bo Xilai, we saw people at home and abroad rise up as if hopped up on drugs, seething for Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s reformist party to succeed in changing China’s political environment. But these people are like monkeys, easily misled by the muddled, indecisive intentions of their masters.
However, never has the promise of Chinese political reform been kept. The oppression and censorship of the Tian’anmen Era carries on even today. To see whether the Communist Party officials have sincere intentions for political reform, one cannot know from looking at whether they can stand behind “The UN Declaration of Human Rights,” nor whether they’ve read the poems of Aleksandr Pushkin, but rather whether they value the sanctity of an individual, common man’s life. When Wen Jia Bao slandered the Tibetan immolation victims, saying they were under the spell of HH the Dalai Lama, he dashed all hope for real political reform.
The “Hu/Wen” reformist party has now brought their ruse to an end. They lured the people in with the promise of hope, only to then trick them back into following the government’s old ways. Constitutional scholar Chen Yongmiao explains it as, “Like being put into a darkened room and only given a strike anywhere match, because the government is scared of what will happen if you open a window and the sun shines through.” Consequently, the only light shining in this endlessly ink-black night comes from the flames consuming the bodies of the Tibetan people.
What flows in the veins of men and women is blood, though, not petrol. If a regime brutalizes its people to such a heinous degree, can they then turn the blood on their hands into flammable petrol? According to Buddhist teaching, suicide is a very serious crime. For devout Tibetans commit an act so contrary to their beliefs, ending their life in such an extreme and violent way without hesitation is proof that their hearts are withered and, on the inside, they have died already.
This voice that dissents, even if the noble gentlemen in the Communist Party play deaf in order not to hear it, still speaks. Those who must start listening, though, are the people of China. Twenty-three years ago, with the sound of the President’s guns slaughtering the people of Lhasa, Tibetan schoolchildren and townsfolk were forced to give up their naive belief that the Chinese security forces would never fire their guns at them.
So, our lives and the lives of the Tibetan people are intrinsically intertwined. In true form to the words inscribed on the wall of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, spoken first by Martin Niemöller, “In Germany, first they came for the communists, and I said nothing, because I wasn’t a communist. Next they came for Jews, and I said nothing, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade-unionists, but I said nothing, because I wasn’t a trade-unionist. Finally, when they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me.”
Originally appeared in Observe China online edition. Translation by ICT staff.