Beijing’s policies in Tibetan-populated areas of China are rapidly destroying Tibet’s religion and culture and are harming the region’s environment, according to a final testament written by a Tibetan monk before his death in a fiery protest early this month in Qinghai.
Writing in a document left behind in a prayer book, and later discovered in his living quarters by his family, self-immolator Sonam Topgyal slams China’s “brutal and repressive policy aimed at eradicating and exterminating [Tibet’s] religion, customs, and cultural tradition.”
“The Tibetan people have no freedom of expression. There is nowhere we can go to lodge our complaints,” says the document, which was written on June 1 “at sunrise” and addressed to “the leaders of the People’s Republic of China in general, and to the Chinese leaders of the [Tibetan] ethnic minority in particular.”
China's policies "are also resulting in environmental destruction" in Tibetan areas, the document says.
Topgyal, 27, set himself ablaze at about 6:00 p.m. on July 9 in the central square of Kyegudo in the Yulshu (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, prompting an immediate security clampdown, including a disruption of communications in the area, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
He died next day in a hospital in the Qinghai provincial capital Xining.
'Testimony to the world'
Following their release on July 13 after briefly being held by authorities, Topgyal’s family members went to clean his living quarters, Konchog Dondrub, a Yulshul native now living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“There, they found a one-page written will tucked inside his prayer book,” Dondrub said, citing contacts in the region.
Chinese authorities routinely impose restrictions on Tibetan religious and other cultural practices, says the document, a copy of which was recently obtained by RFA.
"And Tibetans who petition for the welfare of their people are met with repression and arrest,” the document says.
“The Chinese have never shown any consideration of the [Tibetan] people’s welfare or wishes by addressing their concerns."
“I had to sacrifice my life to bear testimony to the world, and particularly to the Chinese government and people, that we have no freedom to express our grievances or tell the truth,” Topgyal wrote.
“I appeal to my Tibetan brothers and sisters, who have the same lineage and blood, to muster the power of unity and harmony by working toward resolving Tibetan issues in a concerted effort.”
Topgyal’s self-immolation brings to 142 the total number of burnings by Tibetans living in China since the wave of fiery protests calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama began in 2009.
Reported by Sonam Wangdue and Guru Choegyi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.