Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tragic Death - Mourning The Loss of Tsewang Norbu

Yesterday morning, I received some terrible news: Another young Tibetan monk has taken his own life, by setting himself on fire in protest of China’s religious repressions.

Tsewang Norbu of Nyitso Monastery was more than likely as unassuming and humble as any of his Tibetan monk brothers. So when he sat down on a bridge outside a local government office in Kham, spread out pro-Tibet leaflets, and began calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, there should have been cause for alarm.

Then he took a canister of gasoline, doused himself with it, and lit himself on fire.

It’s clear that Tsewang believed this was the way he could call the attention of the world to the unbearable, repressive actions the Chinese government is perpetrating in Tibet.

It’s our duty – yours and mine – to ensure that his tragic death was not in vain.

Please sign our petition to Gary Locke – new U.S. Ambassador to China – today, urging him to use all the power of U.S. diplomacy to stop China’s human rights violations and the cultural and religious repressions at the heart of tragedies like the deaths of Tsewang and Phuntsok.

Dear Sir,

As you assume your post as U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, I ask that you show support for the people, including Tibetans, who are demanding human rights and better governance from their leaders.

On August 16, a young monk named Tsewang Norbu, set himself on fire to call the attention of the world to the unbearable, repressive actions the Chinese government is perpetrating in Tibet. It would be tragic enough if he were alone, but just this past March a young Tibetan monk named Phuntsog was so desperate to be heard that he set himself on fire to protest Chinese injustices in his home town of Ngaba, Tibet. In response, China locked down one of Tibet’s largest monasteries, confining monks inside while preventing townspeople from entering and even blocked food deliveries. They forcibly took some 300 monks into custody for "patriotic re-education," arrested unknown numbers of Tibetans and beat to death two protesters. You have arrived in China at a very sensitive time. China is determined to keep its restive regions closed to foreign tourists while the Dalai Lama has called for transparency and fact-finding missions to Tibet. Please demonstrate to the Tibetan people and the Chinese government that the United States continues to support universal freedoms of assembly, religion and speech by visiting Tibet to assess the situation as a top priority of your service to the American people.