As for their motivations, no foreign or independent entity has been able to interview the survivors to hear their story. The Chinese authorities have not denied reports regarding what the individuals have shouted as they set fire to themselves, which were along the lines of the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibet.
In November, Kirti Rinpoche testified to Congress about the self-immolators, “They want their appeal heard by peace-loving governments and people around the world, including world leaders and human rights organizations, so that they could appeal to China to stop oppression in Tibet.”
ICT has consistently asked governments around the world to speak out on the self-immolation tragedy. Many have (see our list and see below). We argue that governments speaking out will let Tibetans inside Tibet know that the world is hearing their plea. This, we hope, will discourage further acts. Early on, we were sometimes asked whether speaking out would encourage more self-immolations, but we haven’t heard this concern lately.
The timeline below juxtaposes the dates of the acts of self-immolation and statements on them from various governments. I defer to others who may want to debate any correlation between the two.
Recent reports of protests in relation to past or potential self-immolations raise the specter of an escalation and broadening of the crisis, including Monday’s report that three Tibetans may have been shot by Chinese security forces. We hope that governments around the world will not only respond through further statements, but also by directly engaging their Chinese counterparts to urge a withdrawal of the disproportionate security response in places like Ngaba and Draggo, as well as a re-thinking of underlying policies that feed resentment.
Tibetan self-immolations and governmental statements on them 2011-2012
Tibetan Self-Immolations Government Statements