High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on September 22, 2013 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and published on her blog on November 8, 2013.
This post documents the Taiwan launch of her book on self-immolations that took place on September 2, 2013, both in Taipei and Dharamsala. Read a report of that book launch event in Taiwan here.
For French speakers and readers, a book by Woeser about the self-immolations “Immolations in Tibet: The Shame of the World” is widely available, read about it here.
“Remembering the Publication of my Book ‘Chronology and Accounts of Tibetan Self-Immolations’ in Taiwan”
The book “Chronology and Accounts of Tibetan Self-Immolations” provides a written account of the most bitter form of political resistance in modern history. The word count is about 200,000 Chinese characters and includes almost 200 photographs as well as 70 paintings by the Japanese artist Tomoyo Ihaya who portrays Tibetan self-immolations with her paintbrush. Originally, I wanted to compile a complete record of all self-immolation cases, but as this book was being edited and designed, another monk, Karma Ngedon Gyatso, self-immolated on August 5, 2013 in Kathmandu, Nepal; I regretted that he could not be included in my book.
The book separates into seven parts, providing the cases of 120 Tibetans self-immolating within Tibet, and of six self-immolations of exile Tibetans; further it includes the comments and appeals of leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, my own articles about the self-immolation cases, recollections from my close relatives from within Tibet, reports from foreign media, the measures taken by the CCP as well as two appendices: Wang Lixiong’s essay “Last Words from the Flames: Why are Tibetans Self-Immolating?”, and 46 last words left behind by self-immolators themselves.
On September 2, on “Tibetan Democracy Day”, the Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Gangjong Publications simultaneously held a book launch ceremony in Dharamsala (India) and Taipei (Taiwan) for the three books “Chronology and Accounts of Tibetan Self-Immolations”, “60 Years of Chinese Misrule: Arguing Cultural Genocide in Tibet” and “The Dalai Lama: An Ocean of Compassion”. Gangjong Publications wrote with regards to “Chronology and Accounts of Tibetan Self-Immolations”: The daughter of Tibet, Woeser, the collector of recent Tibetan history, has been continuously keeping records of the cases of self-immolations, making sure that the Tibetan truth will always be preserved in the Chinese speaking world and that those who sacrificed their lives will never be forgotten.
The online version of Taiwan’s “Liberty Times” reported on September 3, 2013: Flipping through Woeser’s book “Chronology and Accounts of Tibetan Self-Immolations”, one can sense her determination in the face of agony. The book mentions the 60 years of China’s repeated attempts to label the Dalai Lama and Tibetan people “separatists”, even though the Dalai Lama has always been emphasising that he was not “seeking independence”. China claims that it protects and develops Tibetan religion and culture; but the exiled Dalai Lama as well as the Panchen Lama who cooperates with the CCP have been publicly denouncing the Chinese Tibet policies that are geared towards “extinguishing culture” and “extinguishing an ethnic group and its religion”. China claims that it respects religious freedom, but it simultaneously enacts laws that the reincarnation of a Lama will ultimately be decided by the CCP. China claims that it develops Tibetan culture, but at the same time, thousands upon thousands of Tibetan students have been taking to the streets requesting the basic right to study their mother tongue; many people were as a result imprisoned and sentenced to harsh punishments. Woeser provides the reader with objective and detailed information from a third person perspective.
I would like to express my deepest thanks to the wife of Zheng Nanrong, Mrs Ye Julan, and the head of Gangjong Publications, Mr. Lai Yuning, who composed recommendation prefaces for my book. Mrs Ye Julan wrote: “The Dalai Lama once said, ‘where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.’ In times when China is concealing information about Tibetan self-immolations from the masses, and even distorts the truth, Woeser’s book, revealing the cases of self-immolations and their last words, exposes the real reasons why Tibetan people are sacrificing their lives under tyrannical Chinese rule. Every word, every sentence represents a most profound feeling of desperation and expectation. Even though this ‘Invisible Tibet’ is extremely painful and tragic, only by exposing this bitter truth, one can say that Tibetan people’s lives were not lost in vain; only this will bring us one step closer to peace. I believe that this is the reason why Woeser has been persisting with such incomparable courage.”
I also want to thank all my friends, who provided relevant information, such as photos of Tibetan self-immolators, information about each case and help with the Tibetan and Latin spellings of names. In view of the current reality, I refrain from revealing their names here. I also thank the cartoon artist “Hexie Farm” for providing “Butter Lamp”, the cover artwork of this book.
The last sentence of another book that I wrote about Tibetan self-immolations reflects my innermost wish: all memories will be associated with the flames of suffering, only our genuine commemoration, remembrance and persistence will make the victims of the flames come back to us every single day, come back to this vast land called “Gangjong”, they will always be with us, they will be here forever… I hold my hands in prayer to all self-immolators, a prayer of both deepest pain and highest admiration!
September 22, 2013