Tibetan self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule cannot be easily characterized as “good or bad” and must be judged according to the state of mind of those carrying them out, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says.
“The ultimate factor is their individual motivation,” the Dalai Lama told Times Now, a major Indian television news channel, in an interview this week.
Though suicide is inherently a violent act, questions of “good and bad” hinge on motivation, the Dalai Lama said.
“If motivation [consists of] too much anger, hatred, then it is negative,” he said.
“But if the motivation is more compassionate and [one has a] calm mind, then such acts can also be positive.”
Acting for Tibet?
Tibetan self-immolators have not been drunk or driven to their act by family problems, as Chinese authorities have sometimes charged, the Dalai Lama said.
Instead, they have acted for the “Tibetan national interest,” he said.
A total of 111 Tibetans have self-immolated to date to demand freedom for Tibet and the return from India of the Dalai Lama, with two setting themselves ablaze in China’s Sichuan and Gansu provinces on Sunday and Monday alone.
Responding to Chinese charges that he and Tibetan exile leaders have orchestrated the burnings from afar, the Dalai Lama again invited Chinese officials to carry out a search for evidence at his residence in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
“Please come here and do a thorough check,” he said.
'Suppression and force'
In January, the Dalai Lama called on Beijing to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the causes of Tibetan self-immolation protests, at the same time dismissing official Chinese accusations of complicity in the burnings.
Charges that he has incited the fiery protests from afar are an “indication of desperation” on the part of China’s leaders and are promoted to the Chinese by a policy of “censorship” and “distorted information,” he told India’s NDTV news channel in a talk show.
“They really find it difficult to explain [these events] to the outside world, and also they put a lot of restriction about this information to their own people,” the Dalai Lama had said.
Much has changed in China over the last 30 or 40 years, but the country remains a “totalitarian and closed society,” and China’s new leaders may find it difficult to change Chinese policy in Tibet, the Dalai Lama told Times Now.
Until now, China has attempted to rule Tibet through “suppression and force,” he said.
“I think that kind of policy has completely failed.”