Ever greater numbers of Chinese value Tibet’s religion and culture. But their government still treats it as a subversive region to be subdued
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Even though his words could land him in jail, the monk isn’t afraid. We are inside his mud-brick lodgings, safe from the security cameras that track a people so desperate that about 130 Tibetans have torched their own bodies in fiery dissent since 2011. Clerics, farmers, herdsmen, teachers, even a 15-year-old schoolgirl have all self-immolated to protest Chinese rule. Here, in the hills around Labrang Monastery, one of the holiest sites in Tibetan Buddhism, a dozen people have chosen such incendiary suicide against the Chinese authorities. In the ensuing security crackdown, communist minders have instructed local clergy not to talk about politics or anything that might harm the illusion of serenity.