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Dalai Lama Doesn't Encourage Setting Yourself On Fire

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama Doesn't Encourage Setting Yourself On Fire

Tibetan monks and nuns are setting themselves on fire (self-immolation) as the latest strategic plan in their 60 year struggle against Chinese rule.  The Dalai Lama, the recognized Tibetan spiritual leader is very concerned about the growing number of Tibetan monks and nuns adopting the practice of self-immolation as a form of protest.

Although the monks and nuns are dying to their leader - the Dalai Lama - the spiritual leader is very worried about such actions.

The Dalai Lama spoke with the BBC's Andrew North and said he was not encouraging the acts of self-immolation although he recognized it required great courage.  He said he was not sure just how effective the actions were.   "Courage alone is no substitute. You must utilize your wisdom."

There have been 11 cases of self-immolation so far this year.   Most have resulted in death included the latest case of a 35-year-old nun two weeks ago.   There is word from inside Tibet that more monks and nuns are planning to follow the practice to shine light on the Tibetan struggle against China.

The BBC has obtained graphic footage of the moment she set herself alight, prompting horrified cries from onlookers. Later, Chinese security forces flooded the area.  The shocking video footage was smuggled across the border to India and shown to the BBC.

Asked whether he feared the actions could make life worse for people in Tibet, he said: "Many Tibetans sacrifice their lives.   "Nobody knows how many people killed and tortured - I mean death through torture. Nobody knows.   "But a lot of people suffer. But how much effect? The Chinese respond harder."

China has condemned the self-immolation campaign as immoral and inhuman, saying it will never succeed.   The growing number of monks and nuns prepared to set themselves on fire is a sign of increasing desperation in Tibet, the BBC correspondent says.   They know while the West has backed the Arab Spring, with China it talks with a much quieter voice, he says.

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