Shouting for freedom while wrapping in flames

Dear Martyrs, 
I honour you deeply in my heart.
I still remember the sound of ‘sms’ beep when I received messages of your death. I can recall all that I was doing when my cell phone beeped with ‘sms’ alerts notifying the sacrifices you made for all of us and I feel ashamed to walk the down memory lane and look at myself because at that time either I was fooling   around with my friends or engrossed in watching a movie.  
 I dare not look at the past-at what I was doing- when you were wrapped in flames and struggling to say aloud “free Tibet”. I was far away in a free land and more far away from Chinese oppression yet I was doing nothing except wondering whether to go to ‘KFC’ or ‘McDonalds’. It filled my heart with deep remorse and pain to think how much it would have hurt you when the Chinese troops brutally kicked you to death instead of helping you when you were burning for freedom. I realized the gravity of oppression and torture which led you to take such a drastic measure, and I acknowledge the fact that I will never in my life garner enough courage to do what you did. It inspired me to do something beyond chanting prayers and feeling remorse. I browsed for your photos in the internet, wanted to know more about you, found myself lost in thoughts about you, with a tear struggling not to fall from my eyes as I was pushed around in the metro train by Indians whom I often envy for having the freedom to live like free people in their own land and are not refugees like us. Suppressed tears caressed my cheeks when I saw videos and photos of you burning and dying and dead. The vision of you in pain never leaves me..

More importantly, I remember why you set yourself on fire. I know why you chose death over surrender and the message which you have sent does not die with you. Day by day, the undying message spreads like a wildfire and the demand for human rights and freedom in Tibet grows louder.  

People are finally coming back to their senses and are looking beyond earning more money and being ‘politically correct’. Like me, many Tibetans are emotionally affected by this sad episode and I hope it touches the heart of the ignorant ones too. Whenever I go for a protest I try to feel the pain of Tibetan people inside Tibet and the image of you being shot at and burning fills my heart with fire. I may not be even close to feeling the intensity of pain that you bear and suffered everyday but the very thought of you in immense pain and torment leaves me with only one mission and that is to make your voice heard, to make your pain felt.

I used to wonder how it feels to be in Tibet. How it feels feeling helpless?
On 24th October, 2011, under the guidelines of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress-Rohini, Tibetan students protested in front of UNO building on the day of its founding anniversary in order to pressurize UNO to examine the ongoing critical situation in Tibet concerning the imposed ‘Patriotic re-education’ campaign and continuous self immolations by monks and nuns. I was there too and what started out like a usual protest of shouting slogans turned into something far more greater than I’d imagined It made me feel like I was in Tibet.  

It all started when we were blowing whistles outside the UNO building as a sign to awake UNO from its sleep. We were blocked by a thick line of steel barricade and police force We were shouting and in pain. I looked around and almost everybody had the expression of a raging bull, yet I couldn’t help but notice that they were also bitten by a stinging sadness I looked at the UNO office and saw some officials coming out to the balcony and staring at us with a cold gaze as if nothing mattered to them and it made me so mad that I swear I could feel my heart racing at such a pace that it could have burst. With all the power vested in us we pushed the barricade, broke the barricade, jumped over it, sneaked around it but somehow all of us managed to fight our way to the UNO gate and with our faces dripping with  inconsolable tears we hit our hands and legs on the gate and shouted for help and support. To be honest, my hand did not hurt when I was hitting it against the gate but I felt extremely helpless as if it was  a matter of ‘life and death’ and at that moment I felt as if I was transported to Tibet. The police pushed us away from the gate but we held on to each other and created such a noise that no mankind could have ever produced before.  

A twist in the story- we were no longer there to signify something, we were there to deliver the message and I bet they got it pretty well for they had this look on their faces which reflected their panic that they cannot ignore us anymore.  

Since then I find myself transported to Tibet very often and I am drawn closer to the pain and suffering of the innocent tormented souls in Tibet. To them I say, “ By paying the price of your precious human life, your sacrifice broadcasted the tragic reality of Tibet and ultimately unveiled the mask of pretence of the Chinese government. Your act of valor is honored and remembered by every Tibetan and I wrote a few verses to show my solidarity when my thoughts were dominated by you.

Those who burnt and died

will not be forgotten,
the fire they lit to inspire
will not be ignored,
The lives bounded together
by blood and tears
will no longer remain silent,
the lives which still breathes
will rise to haunt the culprit.

Mankind has seen and known, now I believe its time they understand their duty as global citizens to look at each other and stand up against injustice In us you live and together we will free Tibet; then shall we take a breath of relief, then shall your spirit rest in peace.”

I hope my heartfelt prayers and sense of solidarity reaches out to your soul,
your soul-sister in exile,
Tenzin Tsomo

NOTE-- Tenzin Tsomo is a Tibetan college student studying in India, and this article has won the TCSC (Tibetan College Students Conference) non-fiction essay competition for year 2011. 

Stay tuned to TIBET TELEGRAPH for more news and views on Tibet and Tibetan life, and on areas of interest to the Tibetan readers


  1. super liked the article. Lovely. Looking forward to such more articles.

  2. Beatifully written piece Tenzin Tsomo la. Pls. do keep writing and post every where you can to spread our message and educate the world inside Tibet.

  3. Great article, it made me cry. It resonates how Tibetans feel about self immolations. Thank you for writing, keep writing, and feels good to see a Tibetan student write about immolations.

  4. Such a powerful article!

  5. One of the best and most powerful articles that I read for last one year. Truly deserves to be applauded, and appreciated...

  6. Tenzin Tsomo la, i m just speechless n i don't knw what to say about ur article. Each n ever words u say, i can relate to it. Which is so true but Tibetan people in exile n aboard seems to forget it. Thanx for reminding all the Tibetan, the reason why v r in exile. I truly hope that ur article evoke the patriotism in the heart of every Tibetan. Bodh Gyalo!!!!!!!

  7. Well done Tenzin Tsomola, you wrote a very inspiring article, which makes us feel the pain deep down in our heart and makes us realize the greatest of all the non-violent sacrifices made by Tibetans in Tibet and in India for our very common cause. Please keep up writing, so that your power of pen get boosted with more powerful wisdom to over power the power of gun!

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