Recently, there has been an uprising of protests by Tibetan monks over China’s occupation of Tibet and the exile of the Dalai Lama. The protests are not done with signs and chanting but with self-immolation or the act of burning oneself alive. Richard Gere has praised the actions of the Buddhists monks calling them “a pure act.”
Gere, a long-time Buddhist, says, “It all really comes down to motivation. I mean none of these self-immolators have harmed anybody else. It is totally a self-sacrifice for their people, for others. So on that level it’s a pure act. But I think it’s more important to look into the causes of why people would feel they need to do these kinds of things.”
The hollywood star goes on to discuss how difficult it is for “free thinkers” and “artists” to live in China due to the push for communism. He says, “I think they (Chinese officials) have so wrongly gauged the Tibetan people, thinking they could subvert the deep, deep, deep religious beliefs and make them true Communists. It’s never going to happen.”
The latest monk to practice self-immolation died on Sunday. He was the 15th Buddhist monk documented in a string of fiery deaths.
According to The Wall Street Journal, It is believed that Nyage Sonamdrugyu or, as the government-in-exile calls him Sonam Wangyal, committed the act due to a rise in police heavy-handedness toward Tibetans’ religious activities. However, WSJ also reports that the county committee of the Communist Party claimed, “Mr. Sonam killed himself because his secret love affair with a local woman was discovered by the woman’s husband.”
The rise in self-immolations is cause for concern for Tibetans as well as the government the monks are protesting. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan monks, has often repeated that he does not condone the suicidal practice. That has not stopped China’s state media from placing the blame on the spiritual leader with claims that he has instigated the wave of self-immolation by monks.
What do you think? Do you agree with Richard Gere’s praise of self-immolating monks?