“Tibet’s monks driven to resist by Chinese repression, says exiled abbot”

Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, abbot of the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba which has been the focal point of anti-Chinese protests and self-immolations recently, has been speaking out a lot recently. This is a major turn for a monk who has largely avoided the spotlight in the decades since he went into exile- The Guardian has some quotes:

“Wherever there is repression, there will be resistance,” the 70-year-old told journalists via a phone conference. “They find they have no choice but to express their opposition to Chinese rule by an extreme form of non-violence. They have not harmed a single Chinese.”

He denied the government–in-exile gave orders, but declined to advise others not to follow suit. “If the Chinese government doesn’t change its policies, then Tibetans must make their own choice. We don’t have the right to tell them what to do and what not to do,” he said. The abbot fled Tibet in 1959, as did the Dalai Lama, and has since been in the exile capital, Dharamsala, in India. He visited both China and Tibet in the 1980s, and he says he maintains underground channels with the monastery. Last week he visited the United States and spoke in Washington.

Officials in Aba said they are unaware of a clampdown. The Chinese government says Tibetans are free to practise their beliefs, accusing the Dalai Lama of “terrorism in disguise” because he led prayers for those who set fire to themselves.

The exile community appears divided. Like the Kirti abbot, the Dalai Lama accused China of “cultural genocide”. However, the Karmapa Lama has urged people to “preserve their lives and find other, constructive ways to work for the cause of Tibet”; but he praised the immolators’ courage, and said the Chinese government was to blame.

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Filed under ethnic conflict, Tibet

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