A file photo of EU High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton
DHARAMSHALA, December 15: The European Union expressed profound sadness over the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibet and urged Beijing to respect Tibetan rights and allow free access to Tibet for diplomats and journalists.
In a declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, Friday, EU said it is “profoundly saddened by the increasing number of Tibetans committing self-immolation, many of them young people.”
Since 2009, the ongoing wave of self-immolation protests in Tibet has witnessed 95 Tibetans set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. Despite strict orders by the Chinese authorities, thousands of Tibetans, including school students have carried out mass demonstrations against China’s rule on a regular basis in recent months.
“We are concerned by the restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity, which appear to be giving rise to a surge of discontent in the region,” Ashton said. “While respecting China’s territorial integrity, the EU calls upon the Chinese authorities to address the deep-rooted causes of the frustration of the Tibetan people and ensure that their civil, political, economic and social and cultural rights are respected, including their right to enjoy their own culture, to practise their own religion and to use their own language.”
The EU also expressed its “full support” to the statement made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay on November 2, 2012.
Pillay, in her statement, urged Chinese authorities to “promptly address
the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas.” She further called on the Chinese authorities to release detainees, allow independent human rights monitors to visit Tibet, and to lift restrictions on media access to Tibet.
The EU, which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, in its declaration on Tibetan self-immolations called upon the Chinese authorities to “respect the rights of Tibetans to peaceful assembly and expression, to act with restraint, and to release all individuals detained for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.”
The EU also urged Chinese authorities to allow free access to all Tibetan areas for diplomats as well as for international journalists, while encouraging the resumption of a meaningful dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese representatives.
Earlier this week, US Under Secretary Maria Otero in her statement at the EU’s Human Rights Day Event in Washington DC, cited Tibet as an area where the EU and US can partner on “common strategic engagement
Otero, who is the US Special Coordinator for Tibet, said the Obama Administration wants Europe to engage more in Asia along with the US, “to see the region not only as a market, but as a focus of common strategic engagement.”
“And as a good example, European governments, including Germany, UK, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Poland, have joined the call for Chinese authorities to address the worsening human rights conditions in Tibetan areas,” the statement read.