Increase in Self-immolations of Tibetan Monks and Nuns

Recent weeks have witnessed a rise in the self-immolation of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns, setting themselves alight as a protest against Beijing’s policies in Tibet. Amnesty International has called the trend emblematic of the heightening ‘levels of desperation’ for Tibetans. A Tibetan nun burned herself to death in South West China on Thursday, becoming the eleventh ethnic Tibetan to do so in protest of the Chinese Government this year. Her death came on the advent of a new UN human rights investigation, urging Chinese officials to end a security crackdown severely restricting Tibetans’ freedom of expression, religion and association. 

Kate Saunders, communications director for International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), stated that the wave of self immolations was a ‘deeply disturbing’ new development. ‘The loss of life is indicative of the anguish and desperation experienced by Tibetans in the area under the crackdown that leaves them no space for ordinary life, no space to carry out their religious practice.’
‘Tibetan Buddhism is at the heart of identity, the core of what it is to be Tibetan’, added Saunders. ‘The monks are really at the front line of what they see as a life and death struggle to protect their culture, to protect their identity and to protect what they see to be Tibetan – and this is ultimately what has compelled them to state this stance.’ The Dalai Lama labelled most recent spate of oppressive measures as ‘ruthless and illogical’. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has repeatedly encouraged the Chinese Government to rethink its policy towards Tibet.

The international condemnation of the deaths of the Tibetan clergy has elicited increasingly angry responses from Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which has denounced the Dalai Lama as a ‘devil’ and violent separatist, has called upon him to take responsibility for the self-immolations.

Nina Schick  8.11.11

The Rise of Europe’s far-right 

A new report released by British thinktank Demos has revealed that the far right is on the rise in Europe. The research findings arrive as European academics and politicians prepare to meet in Brussels to discuss the phenomenon.
Targeting a young, internet-based generation though advertisements on Facebook, Demos persuaded 10,000 people spread over eleven countries to take part in a survey conducted during July and August of this year.
The results demonstrate an increase in hardline right-wing nationalism amongst an online generation mostly composed of young men. Characterised by a profound distrust in government and a deep scepticism of the EU, the demographic is concerned by issues of cultural-identity – especially immigration and the purported spread of Islamic influence.

Right-wing European parties have spread beyond strongholds in Italy, France and Austria to more liberal regions such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The Guardian reports that these parties now have significant parliamentary blocs in eight European countries. 
Experts emphasise that formal membership of these parties are part of a larger picture. As became evident in the aftermath of the Anders Breivik massacres in Norway, the internet is used to promote anti-immigrant and nationalist ideology – often through social media platforms such as Facebook – and to follow far-right parties and movements.

Nina Schick  8.11.11

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