If you’ve read my blog for any decent amount of time, you’ve probably seen me report on the various closures of the borders into Tibet. Generally I’ve written about the impact of these closure in regards to how they disrupt mountaineering inside the Himalayan country, most notably how such disruptions effect Everest. Even as recently as this fall the border closure caused climbing teams headed to Cho Oyu or Shisha Pangma to alter their plans, sending many to Nepal for alternative options.
The reasons for these closures is usually due to internal protests agains Chinese rule. China doesn’t wish outsiders and journalists from other countries to witness some of the activities inside Tibet, so they’ve taken to tough measures to prevent the rest of the world from seeing what is happening there. But recently a journalism team from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation snuck across the border and had a look around. What they found was pretty disheartening. Tibetans who were willing to speak told tales of oppressive Chinese crackdowns, brutal attacks and harsh repercussions for falling out of line. In protest, Buddhist monks have been setting themselves on fire and it is believed that as many as 50 young monks have died this year in that manner.
The video, which was shared by Reinhold Messner on Facebook earlier today, is a sobering one and not for the faint of heart. It shows a couple of scenes of self immolation which aren’t easy to watch, so while this story is an important one, proceed with caution.