Over the last three days there have been two cases of self-immolation in the far western regions of China, commonly known as Tibet. The first case occured on October 4th, when Gudrup, a Tibetan man, set himself on fire. On the 6tha second Tibetan man set himself ablaze. His name was Sangay Gyatso. Gudrup was an active blogger before his death, and had left a number of writings that have begun to go public. Below is an excerpt of one especially poignant message that has been translated into English.
The line between Tibet and its place as a colony of the People’s Republic of China has been drawn again over the last few days as the tragedy of Gudrup has been told on Chinese social media websites. Colonialism has of course become a very politically charged word in the last several decades. It has become one way for many minority groups to express their anger, when they feel they are being exploited by the ruling government.
I have included a definition of the word colony here, but the important concept is that a colony involves the subjugation of a group of people to the will of another. Whether or not this term should be used for Tibet is an argument that is ongoing, but it is not a stretch to call them one, and the recent deaths and its aftermath tragically illustrate why.
The issue of Tibet is just one more indicator of how colonialism is hardly dead. Not that this should come as a surprise, for the root concept of colonial rule was expressed thousands of years ago by Athenian conquers, “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.” It thus seems unlikely that colonialism will ever truly die, though there surely is still hope for a brighter day for the Tibetan people.
My expertise on Tibet is limited so this is not an issue I will discuss regularly, but I did want to at least touch upon it here and mention the names of these two Tibetans.