Self-Immolation in Tibet Essay

2027 WordsMar 10, 20139 Pages
Self-Immolation in Tibet The smell of burning flesh fills the air, flames coming from a human being. A man's body slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. The date is February 3, 2013. Lobsang Namgyal, a Tibetan man of 37, set himself aflame in front of an office of the public security bureau in what is now referred to as the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Tibetan Buddhist monk died on the scene. Even in today's increasingly violent society, suicide is an act that seems incomprehensible to the most hardened individual. In the Western world people seem to directly associate these acts with mental illness. Anyone who hints at the idea of even hurting themselves is sent directly to a doctor and promptly medicated for their depression. In this context, one is left to wonder what kind of terrible disorder could have been plaguing a man's mind to lead him to such a theatrical and agonizing death at his own hands. Who was Lobsang Namgyal and what drove him to take such drastic actions? Fellow monks, who live in exile in Dharamsala, India, and come from the same monastery as Mr Namgyal said he had been an exceptional student chosen to study for a Geshe degree, the highest qualification in Tibetan Buddhism. They spoke of him saying, “He was regarded as a model for a new generation of students at the Kirti monastery,” (Wong) Namgyal had been temporarily detained in September by officials who sought to discredit and isolate him. Even upon release, while traveling to a rural nomadic area, him and his family were subject to intense surveillance. Witnesses to the event have said that during the act Mr. Lobsang Namgyal called for the long life of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Namgyal’s identity was confirmed after Chinese police found his identity card and a letter from inside a bag near the protest site. The contents of

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