His Holiness the Dalai Lama holding a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London on May 14, 2012. (Photo/Clifford Shirley)
DHARAMSHALA, December 18: The United Kingdom joined a growing chorus of global powers calling on China to allow diplomatic access to Tibet and urging Beijing to resume “meaningful dialogue” with Tibetan representatives.
Briton Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire, in a statement today, expressed UK’s “serious concern” about human rights and the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
UK’s statement on the crisis in Tibet comes days after the European Union’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton 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.
“We strongly support the recent statement from Baroness Ashton about the situation in Tibet,” Swire said. “We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation there, including the self-immolations in Tibetan regions.”
In February 2009, monk Tabey became the first known Tibetan inside Tibet to set himself on fire protesting China’s rule. Since then 95 Tibetans have self-immolated, demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. The recent escalation in protests witnessed 28 self-immolations in the month of November and massive protests by thousands of Tibetans, including by school students.
While urging the Chinese authorities to “exercise restraint” in Tibetan areas, the UK vouched its “strong support” for the resumption of “meaningful dialogue to resolve the underlying grievances of Tibetan communities.”
The Foreign Office Minister further called on the Chinese government to “ensure unrestricted access” to all Tibetan areas for diplomats, international media, and other concerned parties.
“We believe a long term solution is best achieved through respect for universal principles of human rights and genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution,” the statement reads.
This month, the United States
issued statements blaming China for exacerbating the situation in Tibet and calling for diplomatic access to Tibetan areas and the resumption of Sino-Tibet dialogue process.
The Dalai Lama last month told reporters in New Delhi that China’s repressive policies and the unbearable situation in Tibet are forcing Tibetans to set themselves of fire in Tibet.
"The unbearable situation in Tibet is the cause for these unfortunate events. I am very sad about the turn of events. These are symptoms of fear, hard line suppressive policy practiced by China in Tibet. The time has come for China to think more realistically," reporters quoted the 77-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader as saying.