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Terror in Tibet

Tibet lacks separation between religion and government

Jessica Palakovich, Photo and Design Editor

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As May 29 quickly closes in, the reason for the established national holiday is remembered. Memorial Day in the U.S. mainly focuses on respecting those who have fought and sacrificed themselves for what they believe in most— their freedom.

While most are appreciative of the fearless men and women who gave up their lives for their country, some don’t realize the bigger spectrum. In the United States, people are privileged to have the rights and freedoms that they have, but many countries don’t have the same opportunities.

Tibet, one of the many oppressed places around the world, spans almost a quarter of China. Due to China’s communist government, the people of Tibet have been forced to believe in their government or their religion, Tibetan Buddhism. The fine line among their faith and the current government has caused more than rifts, but similar to earthquakes that have torn people and ideals apart.

Tibetans believe that the Dalai Lama is a manifestation of a figure possessing the compassion of all Buddhas. He is chosen by the previous Dalai Lama in a never-ending cycle. In the Tibetan faith, they believe that the Dalai Lama chooses to reincarnate himself into the future one.

The current Dalai Lama is the fourteenth to reign. He is revered throughout the world as a man of compassion and intelligence. The Tibetan people consider him to be holy, wise and powerful.
Exiled in 1959, the Dalai Lama has spent a good part of his life in hiding. Chinese communists have spread their ideas that the Dalai Lama is a demon, keeping control by using fear to oversee their people. While spreading these rumors and seizing control, it has put innocent people in harm’s way. In 1995, six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family were captured by the Chinese government. This child was chosen to leave a great legacy, but instead, his legacy was cut extremely short.

Missing for 22 years this month, the little boy was proclaimed Panchen Lama by the current Dalai Lama to continue the cycle of Tibetan Buddhism tradition. Only a few months after the child’s disappearance, Chinese officials named their own Panchen Lama to replace the official one. Stuck with an impossible decision, the Tibetan people have little choice; believe in their government or the ways of their ancestors.

While some courageous Tibetans have stood up for their beliefs in a peaceful way, others have protested by self-immolating. Setting fire to themselves in the streets, the protesters and their entire families have been arrested. These acts have endangered more than the protesters, but their friends and relatives as well.

Self-harm and suicide are strictly against the Buddhist religion; however, the Dalai Lama has been forced into a difficult position. If he admonishes the behavior, the protesters will have harmed themselves for nothing and the government wins. But if the acts are condoned, the communists will continue to hurt the people and the protesters are no longer obeying the rules of their beliefs.

This cycle of pain and anger has set an imbalance according to the Dalai Lama. He has announced that he is considering putting a stop to the reign of the Dalai Lama due to the unsafe and unrest of the environment.

Here in the U.S., Americans have put into place that the government be separated from religion. The oppression that other religions and cultures have faced in the past, America has learned from. So, what is stopping other countries from doing the same thing? Considering that some people’s faith is as strong as any body of government, there is bound to be conflict.
While people on the other side of the world from these conflicts may not be able to change their situations, maybe changing their mindsets are enough. There is no way that all of the world’s issues are going to be solved overnight, but a resolution has to start somewhere. The resolution can be as simple as being grateful that where you live is safe and you have the freedom of choice.

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Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
Terror in Tibet