Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Man who Set Himself on Fire

Another Strangers episode for you here, this time relevant to the geography of war and conflict. This was one of the most interesting episodes of Strangers I'd heard in a while (even though they are all great so it's hard to chose! btw I don't work for them in case you were wondering but they really do brighten up my commute!!).

It's the story of a Tibetan man, Lhakpa Tsering, who Lea met while travelling to a town in the foothills of the Himalayas to escape a broken heart. Tibet is a mainly Buhddist, autonomous region of China, spiritually led by the Nobel Peace-Prize winner, the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately he has been in exile since 1959 after a separatist uprising that was crushed by China.

As you may know if you've studied conflicts, separatism is when a minority group of people wish to break away from the country they are part of and claim independence so that they can have their own laws and tradition. People fighting for separatism, such as ETA and the PKK, have often resorted to violence and been labelled as terrorists.

Whilst Chinese government is adamant that Tibet is part of China, the Tibetan people accuse China of 'colonising' or 'occupying' their country and have been fighting for independence. Lhakpa Tsering ran away from Tibet to India, just as the Dalai Lama did, when he was only 9 years old. Some time later he became involved in protests against the Chinese government, something he felt so passionate about that he was willing to set himself on fire to draw attention to the unfair treatment of the Tibetan people.

You can listen to and download the episode 'Man on Fire', and see some pictures of Lhakpa here. The part where he talks about the fire incident runs from about 15.50 to 20.50, though if you have time it's worth listening to the whole story.

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