On his weekly show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” Oliver usually devotes the last 20 or so minutes to a special segment. On this week’s episode, the segment is about the Dalai Lama and situation regarding China and Tibet. The segment describes how the Chinese government is doing all that it can to discredit the Dalai Lama, including banning his image and celebrities who have spoken to him. The segment also discusses the history and current situation in Tibet. Since the Chines have invaded Tibet in 1950, they have suppressed Tibetan Buddhists, destroyed numerous temples and killed thousands of Buddhists. The most interesting part about this segment is when Oliver discusses the situation with the Panchen Lama, the one who finds the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. What’s interesting about this situation is that the current Dalai Lama identified the next Panchen Lama about 20 years ago, but shortly after this, the child and his family were kidnapped by the Chinese government and have not been seen since. The only information regarding his whereabouts are when the Chinese government issued a statement saying that he is “being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed.” The Chinese government then tried to discredit the Dalai Lama by anointing their own Panchen Lama. This is so that their Panchen Lama can find the next Dalai Lama, one preferably who is more friendly to the Chinese government and their claim on Tibet. The current Dalai Lama is obviously upset about this and has stated that he will either be the last Dalai Lama or the next reincarnation will not be Tibetan or Chinese. John Oliver then travels to India and interviews the Dalai Lama about the current situation in Tibet, specifically the results of self-immolations as a form of protest.
What I found most interesting about this story was how it showed the ways in which religion can be used both as a form of oppression and a form of resistance. The Chinese government routinely oppresses the Tibetan Buddhists and suppresses the practicing of their religion, and yet they have the audacity to use it against them in the form of their own Panchen Lama. Thus revealing their own hypocrisy. Consequently, on the opposite side is the Dalia Lama who in the interview states that the subject of the Buddhists who have self-immolated is difficult to talk about because on one level they are killing themselves, something that goes against Buddhist beliefs, and yet he has to remain silent so as not to appear that he is not supportive of their rights. It is a terrible situation of which he is fully aware and it perfectly illustrates the problem of religion in today’s society.