I Will Burn Myself Again And Again

I must admit to a regrettable tone-deafness when it comes to poetry, especially  Tibetan poetry of the classical kind. But some days ago the web-chowkidar of rangzen.net sent over a poem about the self-immolations in Tibet, and asked me to go over the English translation. Just the title hit me, hard, with its incredible implacability: “I Will Burn Myself Again And Again“.

Quite a few of us have written on these tragic events in Tibet and have tried to explain, or at least  guess at the underlying motives of those men and women who gave up their lives in such a totally courageous and compassionate  fashion. But  I think this one poem does a better job of providing the deeper emotional and cultural meaning of the protests  than the writings of experts  evaluating things from political or socio/economic perspectives.  But I’m not going to say any more. The reader should experience the poem for him or herself,  preferably in the Tibetan language original. I just want to apologize, especially to the poet herself and the translator, Om Gangthik,  if my editing has in any way detracted from the power and directness of such lines:

All my brothers and sisters, young and old, living in misery and sorrow
All people throughout the world who love freedom and peace
And to you tyrants of violence, oppression and torture.
What I want is lasting peace and freedom
What I am searching for is an existence of equality and caring
Until I accomplish this
I will burn myself again and again.

I met the poet Sungchuk Kyi in Dharamshala in the summer of 2009. She came to see me at my house  and gave me three volumes of her poems and essays, which she kindly signed for me.  She wrote her first poem back in Amdo in 1993, and has written many hundreds since, her debut collection of poems being the first published volume of poems  by a Tibetan women. She left Amdo in 2002 and now lives and works in Dharamshala. Her books can be obtained at Multi Education Editing Center, Bhagsu Road,, McLeod Ganj 176219, Dharamshala, HP. India.


40 Replies to “I Will Burn Myself Again And Again”

  1. Very soul stirring… resembles the prayer by Nagarjuna “as long as space remains…” Very powerful and contemporary but I see both pieces in the same light.
    Thank you v indeed Jamyang la.

  2. Life as a refugee is a mix of emotions. Being denied of rights, which the people elsewhere take it for granted.

    Now the main question is, how to kill the barbaric hardliners in the CCP, for the well being of many sentient beings. Even the Buddha will agree to my point of view.

  3. @UGEN,

    There is no need to destroy railroad and airport. Those may come handy once we have the freedom to return. We have to get rid of the root cause of all evils and ie human beings (hardliners).

  4. ZongChuk Kyi,(གཟུངས་ཕྱུག་སྐྱིད།)the first Tibetan woman, who published her anthology of poems. As a woman writer, she is pretty well fined woman poet, who will never depart from the Tibetan poetry through out her life, no matter , how many things kept on changing around her,,,,,that is her beauty !!

    The one of the best poem that she ever written was called ” Never silencing Flow”- (འཇགས་མི་སྲིད་པའི་བཞུར་རྒྱུན།)

  5. PEMA T la, we don’t need railroad even if we get independent, it servers nothing, but to the military. these officials are well protected, as they are the piece of shitt, so i would go for railroads and infrastructure first. i am sure it makes chinese officials in tibet are scared and make them to leave. it will happen.

  6. It is pretty interesting idea to target Chinese constructions( Railroads, Mineral factory sites,official buildings , military camps etc)Purposely and very systematically ,,,,,,

    For that, there two very important things that we have to be pre-planed think before things implemented in action:

    1) We have to be ready, how we do justify our action to the world.

    2) How, we do supply proper weapon to those who are committed to do.

    Only then, our violent struggle will be last till our freedom be restored ,,,,

  7. How about a ‘Project Nyintam” , a creation of the shatakchikpa only.

    Justifying action to the world? we can make up anything like China.The world will buy it the way they do now.
    or Why do we have to justify when they dont justify their silence when our parents were tortured to death..to hell with the world.

  8. this live streaming app http://bambuser.com/ and if this is not being used currently I think would be good to circulate with the Tibetan movement. It is currently being used in the Syrian protest and the occupy movement. It is available for download from android and iphone market. Could we promote it inside Tibet? The site is protected by Swedish law and I think we could contact the developer about further details. They distribute videos to major newspapers so would be great for more e-activism.

  9. You can see by the drastic measures taken to protect the railway, that this fear was on their minds when they built it.

    From 2006:

    Sabotage Angst Along Tibet Railway

    Details have emerged about draconian security measures on the newly inaugurated Qinghai-Tibet railway. Though no major cases of sabotage are known on the railway, these measures underline the realisation amongst the Chinese authorities of the potential vulnerability of the project.

    According to the critical “Boxun news”, and the Hong Kong paper ‘Daily Economy’, just before the new railway’s opening to the public, the Chinese authorities performed diverse drills aimed at countering potential “terrorist sabotage” on the stations and on the whole rail track.


  10. Images come to mind from all those WWII movies…French partisans along the railroad tracks at night, derailing ammunition trains…

    If any wumaodang here are the ones who first suggested it, I would call that a distinct backfire. Probably on their career as well. It would serve the Internet Commentator program right.

  11. The discussion on Chinese infrastructure in Tibet reminds me of an exile Tibetan elder once showing me a book which systematically detailed all the key Chinese infrastructure in Tibet, e.g. bridges along key supply routes, airfields etc. I recall being told that the book was produced by one of the original Tibetan “Cornell Cadre”, probably in the mid-1990s. I seem to recall the book was written in English, but it could possibly have been in Tibetan. I also recall thinking the book looked privately published.

    It is important to keep documenting the CCP’s expanding infrastructure of military occupation and repression (e.g. photos, locations, construction details etc.). You could use the the same database technology that has been suggested for recording those Chinese individuals positively identified as part of the repressive Chinese forces in Tibet. I think this is a very powerful idea.

    In a similar way, how about also recording the individual details of those Tibetans who died as a result of the Chinese occupation since 1950? Make it a collective exercise: Tibetan families and friends posting details and photos (if they exist) – name, age, date of death and circumstances, village, town etc. It could be rather like a “Tibetan Facebook of the Dead” or “a Virtual Memorial”. Think of it as something similar to the powerful photo montages of the victims of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (incidently a CCP client regime). I’m aware that pre-1960 photos of Tibetans are not that common, but I’ve been surprised by how many quite ordinary Tibetan families do have old photos.

    Such an exercise would unite the Tibetan martyrs of yesterday with the martyrs of today. I’m obviously aware of the TGiE’s original 1.2 million exercise, and that information might be useful, but a more collaborative and mutual effort by all Tibetan families to memorialize the Tibetan bodycount could be very powerful. It’s important to do this soon, as so many of those who fled post the 1959 uprising are now very elderly and the memory and recollections could be lost forever. So get to it, put your iPads and laptops to good use.

    Bottom line: The Tibetan people need to do all they can to ensure the CCP does not “keep face” through their lies and propaganda being heard over and above the Tibetan version. The Tibetans must have the last say in what constitutes the history of Tibet!

  12. Now this surely is the time to take arms and resort to counter-aggressive measures. India won its independence through people like Bhagat singh, not Gandhi…Great cause requires great actions!

    It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice…It doesn’t matter whether the act is voilent or non-voilent as long as it serves a just cause…

  13. You guys ignored this essential software. http://bambuser.com If you guys can smuggle this software inside Tibet, they can send videos outside immediately without detection. Please try to share this to activists who might or anyone who need it, or can send it inside Tibet.

  14. Someone here recently mentioned the use of Tibetan instead of English. It would leave a lot of us supporters hanging (or actually having to exert more effort finally lol) but for security reasons, one of the most effective strategies would be to switch all conversations to Tibetan. Or at least as much as possible.

    While uppity, the Germans had less problem studying their adversary’s language – anything to win. I have seen over and over in the mainland Chinese, though, especially the cadre types, that they have zero interest in Tibetan…it is completely beneath them. Even when considering other dialects of their own language, a sort of Northern Han chauvinism gets in the way.

    I dont know for sure, but I think hardly any Chinese speak, much less read, passable Tibetan, and if you reduce that to the number of cadre-spy-types it gets even smaller. That would have to be checked, but at any rate it would certainly reduce the number of effective wumaodang by thousands. Put them out of a job for sure.

    The government has seen to it that The public version of Google translate doesn’t include Tibetan…it’s much harder to “fake” Tibetan for this and other reasons.

    A powerful cultural movement as well as a powerful security strategy. I know some of it’s already underway–Lhakar, etc.

    Dialects can be golden…if you and the person you’re talking to online know a local dialect, the more obscure the better, there is probably no Wumao in the world that can figure it out.

    Even though Chinese officials I believe hoard their own Tibetan version of Google translate (some 5mao told me last year it would be released soon and make it easier to “track Tibetans”) there’s no way it can handle all the dialects.

    I know HH and others encourage a standard dialect, but for the time being taking pride in ones home dialect and using it often could be a good thing imho!

    There are some strategies we are starting to work on in my area, but how do we share them securely? Either have to have closed forums–and than there will still be spies–or use some other strategy. Anything online can be faked easily..except language. Yes, gyami soba and all that, but at least the chances are somewhat better; at least we’re slowing them down (a lot) by using Tibetan. Plus the language will be strengthened at the same time, and posts like mine will become much shorter, lol.

  15. Old Monk, I think the bambuser idea is fantastic. The Anonymous guys are really good at dealing with local Internet issues…China and Tibet are extremely hard to crack, but maybe bambuser could be accessed with a satellite phone connection?

  16. An Observer, agree heartily with what you have said. Tibetan Facebook of the Dead is an utterly stunning concept.

    Would it be okay to call it that? Would it be considered sacrilegious or is it acceptable? One can’t deny the impact of those words.

  17. In order to do that,
    (1) we need a centralized and a secured internet infrastructure.
    (2)then people will feed information to us, through email, fax or telephones or interviews or whatever meanings.
    (3)set up volunteer orgs to verify their information.
    (4)set up an expert committee to reverify final information

  18. let us also not forget we are not alone with same objective. we are not 6 millions. We are 16 millions with exact same objective. Ouighurs. We need to unite with them.

  19. they are as old as Tibet, and very fierce and determinate. They somehow were occulted in their mediatisation by the tibetan cause, and need the same attention. They are also only 200 kms from pakistan and afghanistan. They can pose a real threat to ccp. And some show up at OUR protests despite being shadowed by our cause in the media.

  20. And nobody is interested to know that you did it.Whatever it is..take it to the grave.Sab sab zsee zsee is more important than the thamaee drumdrey.

  21. @Sheila, I used the term “Tibetan Facebook of the Dead” more as an analogy, but you’ve made me realise that it is quite a good concept in its own right. I was coming more from a desire to see an extension of the powerful visual representation of all the Tibetans that have self-immolated to include ALL the Tibetans that have died as a result of the CCP’s occupation. I don’t think Tibetans will be so precious as to object to the name, Facebook might (under pressure), Beijing certainly will (they’ll start a “Smiling Tibetan Former Serfs” version).

    @Ugen, All your points are very valid. Whilst the final outcome would be very powerful, to get there in a way that has controls, verification and security is very important and will need careful thought. Facebook, being very popular, might be the optimum platform for presentation of the details under control of an administrator. Behind this “front end” would be the need to have all the verified base data as you say. Patrick French in his book “Tibet, Tibet” made some valid points about the replicated records and inaccuracies he came across in the official TGiE body count. Nowadays, databases provide the ability to check easily for replicated data and close matches.

  22. Speaking of the Uyghurs –reminds me that I should read more about their history. All I know is that they desire independence from the ‘mother land’. They don’t want to merge themselves with the Han. They’re a proud people.

  23. See #28— Jamyang La wrote
    Patrick French was a friend of mine, before I reviewed his book Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land (my review “The Incredible Weariness of Hope” is on Phayul). He was an enthusiastic Tibet supporter once and director of the UK based Free Tibet Campaign in the early nineties. With the exception of his Tibet book he is a gifted writer and I think his Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division is one of the more perceptive histories of modern India. I am looking forward to his biography of VS Naipaul.

  24. Due to the over acting policy of Samdhong Rinpoche,we,Tibetan exile Govt, cleaned up its strategy of sending spy in Tibet.As a result, we are slowly becoming a blind on recent Chinese activities,,,,,,

  25. Daveno…what is a Semi-Non violence? ..that reminded me of the Semi-Deluxe buses in India….its either Deluxe or Ordinary…the concept of introducing a middle tier is an allusive tactic of absconding the reality or misleading , for that matter. The Poem is heart wrenching…” burn again and again”!!! ..blowing up the nerve centre of the Chinese forces and Military bases or anything to stop their Economic pulses sounds favorable to me. Then perhaps the world can focus on the issue of Tibet. There is no further point beyond what the Tibetans have demonstrated (by immolating themselves) that could draw attention of the world out there..and yet the reaction is very timid and faint. So, obviously we are left upon ourselves to take the matter in our hands. Bhod-Gyalo!!!

  26. i feel mixed while reading this as feel sad that we tibetans were suffering under it but feel happy as people like you can express it to the world….
    hands of to you

    from same being R….


  28. Jamyang la, in my previous post to you, all of ten minutes ago, I requested your input on a reading list of sorts to better educate myself.Well, it seems I couldn’t find a better resource than this very blog site. Your writing, insiteful commentaries and yes, your sense of humor, make this a very important site for me. Tujay shita-chay!
    What are your thoughts concerning Lhak Sam la’s “http://flamesofbodhichitta.com/”? I’d be interested in hearing that.

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