New Media Project: Self-Immolation

Posted on December 13, 2013 by


Begin with Prezi: 

The Theology of Self Destruction delves into the religious conflicts that are imposed when self-immolation of religious peoples comes into play. The author also highlights the reasons why he believes that people self immolate, using specific quotes from people such as Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich and Muslim preacher Yusaf al-Qwaradawi to amplify his credibility. His argument consists of these Tibetan monks being probed by the Chinese government to exhort violence because of the long growing conflict between Tibet and China. For example he states “The Chinese have a golden opportunity to negotiate while the Dalai Lama is alive…but it sometimes seems that the Chinese are trying to impel the Tibetans to take a course of violence.” He also quotes that Though to counter this he mentions that the monks are simply following in the Buddha’s footsteps because he similarly offered his f=body as food to a hungry tigress. This representation of both sides of the argument shows that there is a lack of bias, though as a reader, one would assume that there are more than just two simple reasonings as to why someone would self immolate. Though bias is present earlier in the article where he refers to monk’s self-immolations as “desperate acts.” This desperation suggests that these monks are rather helpless and wanting attention. This interpretation shows the view of these specific monks as a mentally unstable group of people.

A second article from CBS news titled Tibet Self Immolations: Why People set themselves on Fire to Protest China emphasizes Chinese political reign and it’s negative impact on Tibet. The author, Shannon Van Sant, explains that the protests aren’t just involving Buddhist monks and nuns, but also is beginning to escalate through the entire community of Tibet. Data collected stated that there for 27 self immolations within one month in 2012 and the numbers have increased from there. The author pulls at the audience’s heartstrings with the images involved. The first is of a distressed man, running around a flame, which causes the audience to become aghast with such a violent photograph. She also includes one of a singular woman, presumably dealing with economic hardship, standing alone in the blizzard winter of Tibet. This infliction of emotion sets the audience up for an automatic pity for Tibet and abhorrence for China. Her final closing is a quote by a Tibetan pilgrim, which tells, “We are not asking for money. What we ask for is inside, and taking that away — our spiritual essence — is the same as killing us.” Indicating that the Chinese are forcing the monks and Tibetan community to perform such brutal acts.

The third article is from BBC News Asia entitled Sri Lanka Buddhist Monk dies After Self-Immolation. This piece counters the rest because it is of the reports from China and involves a monk not from Tibet. The author paragraphs the initial incident and uproar thereafter from the public when the government refused a state burial for him. He self immolated in protest of the slaughter of animals. This shows a third interpretation as to why monks set themselves on fire, to stand up for what they believe in. She does quote “the monk had forewarned a reporter from a private TV station of his plan and the journalist then filmed the suicide instead of preventing it.” This hints at a biased perspective, as she seems to question the morality of the journalist as if she would have prevented it if she were in that position.

End with Soundcloud:

Other sources:,8599,2043123,00.html

Posted in: Uncategorized