From Manesh Shrestha, for CNN
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) - A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule.
Self-immolation began as a form of protest among Tibetans in China in February 2009, when a young monk set himself ablaze. In March 2011, another young monk followed in his footsteps, becoming the first to die. Scores of others have since followed suit.
The number of Tibetans in China who have set themselves on fire to protest Beijing's rule has now reached 100, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.
By CNN Staff
(CNN) - A court in southwestern China has given heavy sentences to two ethnic Tibetans convicted of murder for "inciting" people to set themselves of fire, state media reported Thursday.
Self-immolation has become a dramatic and harrowing form of protest in recent years for ethnic Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule.
Beijing has taken a tough line on the protesters and their associates, accusing the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, of fomenting unrest inside Chinese borders.
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) –China Daily, an English-language newspaper and a mouthpiece of the Chinese government, last week published an article called “Western Voices Question Tibetan Self-Immolation Acts.”
The first of the voices quoted was mine—for a Belief Blog piece I wrote last summer criticizing the Dalai Lama for averting his gaze from the spate of self-immolations protesting Chinese rule in Tibet. "If the Dalai Lama were to speak out unequivocally against these deaths, they would surely stop. So in a very real sense, their blood is on his hands," I wrote in a passage quoted in the Chinese Daily piece.
In my post, I wrote of an “epidemic of self-immolations,” noting that from mid-March to mid-July 2011 more than 40 Tibetans had set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Since then, the pace of these protests has accelerated. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, 94 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011, and the pace in November was nearly one a day.
By Jen Christensen, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – A young girl bravely stood to ask the Dalai Lama's doctor a question, and he gave her an unusual answer.
Dr. Tsewang Tamdin, a world-renowned expert in Tibetan medicine, visited Emory University in Atlanta on Monday as part of his effort to reach more American medical practitioners. He wants to develop collaborative projects between the Tibetan medicine system, which is more than 2,500 years old, and Western medicine.
The little girl told Tamdin she suffered from asthma. She wanted to know if there was anything in Tibetan medicine that could help her get better.
Tamdin, who spoke through a translator for the hourlong lecture, immediately switched to English. In a gentle, almost too-soft tone, he explained what might help.
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
When the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc immolated himself in Saigon in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem, the world took notice. Malcolm Browne’s photograph of the monk becoming a martyr won the Pulitzer Prize, and Diem's Roman Catholic regime fell before the year’s end.
Today, Tibet is witnessing an epidemic of self-immolations. In fact, since March 16, 2011, more than 40 Tibetans have followed Thich Quang Duc’s lead, setting themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Westerners react with revulsion to sati, the Hindu practice of widow-burning outlawed by the British in 1829, and of course to Islamist suicide bombers. The New Atheists are right to protest all this killing in the name of God (or the Buddha) – the way believers both prompt violence and justify it in the name of some higher good.
So where are the protests against these Tibetan protesters?
By Richard Allen Greene
LONDON (CNN) – The Dalai Lama refused to answer a question Monday about whether Tibetan monks should stop setting themselves on fire to protest China's occupation of Tibet.
"No answer," he said, saying it was a sensitive political question and that he had retired from politics.
He handed over political leadership of the Tibetan community to an elected prime minister last year.
Self-immolation is becoming an increasingly common form of protest for Tibetans who want genuine autonomy from China and accuse Beijing of repression.
More than 30 of them took place in the last year in China, Tibetan advocacy groups say.
The Dalai Lama was speaking in London, where he is accepting the Templeton Prize, an award worth £1.1 million ($1.74 million) which honors "outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality."
The Dalai Lama will give $1.5 million to the aid organization Save the Children, he said.
He is giving another $200,000 of the prize money to the Mind & Life Institute, and $75,000 to his own monastic community.
Johannesburg (CNN) - Miffed by a visa delay that led the Dalai Lama to cancel a trip to South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu lashed out at his government Tuesday, saying it had acted worse than apartheid regimes and had forgotten all that the nation stood for.
"When we used to apply for passports under the apartheid government, we never knew until the last moment what their decision was," Tutu said at a news conference. "Our government is worse than the apartheid government because at least you were expecting it from the apartheid government.
"I have to say that I can't believe this. I really can't believe this," Tutu said. "You have to wake me up and tell me this is actually happening here."
The Dalai Lama scrapped his planned trip to South Africa this week after the nation failed to issue him a visa in time, his spokesman said.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - China spoke out strongly Sunday against a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, saying it "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and harmed Sino-U.S. relations."
"This action seriously interfered with China's internal affairs," said Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement, adding that officials have lodged formal complaints with their U.S. counterparts in Beijing and Washington.
Obama met with the Dalai Lama on Saturday in Washington, commending the Tibetan spiritual leader on his commitment to nonviolence and pursuit of the "Middle Way" approach with China, the White House said in a statement.
By Moni Basu, CNN
Karl Marx called religion the opium of the masses, so a few folks were taken aback when the Dalai Lama proclaimed himself a Marxist during a recent visit to Minnesota.
Minneapolis-based writer Tsering Namgyal listened in on the Dalai Lama's talk with 150 Chinese students at the University of Minnesota. Surprised by what he heard, he wrote about it for Religion Dispatches. Namgyal said midway through the conversation, the Dalai Lama said: "As far as sociopolitical beliefs are concerned, I consider myself a Marxist."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.