Participants prepare for the U.N. Human Rights Council's 22nd session in Geneva. (Photo/AFP/Yonhap News)
DHARAMSHALA, March 14: Multiple countries at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council’s 22nd Session in Geneva castigated China over the unprecedented numbers of self-immolations in Tibet.
Speaking on behalf of its 27 member states, the European Union expressed profound sadness on the self-immolations in Tibet and encouraged China to begin “constructive dialogue” with Tibetan representatives.
“The EU is profoundly saddened by the numerous self-immolations in Tibetan-inhabited areas,” said the EU delegate to the UN Human Rights Council, while encouraging China to “re-engage in constructive dialogue with the Tibetan people and to allow free access to the Tibetan autonomous area.”
EU further urged China to take steps to implement the right to freedom of expression including on the Internet – and freedom of assembly, and to release the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and other prisoners of conscience.
The United States of America in its statement blamed China’s policies of undermining linguistic, cultural, and tradition of ethnic religious minorities and heightening tensions in Xinjiang and Tibetan areas.
“Recent decision to use criminal proceedings against families and associate of Tibetans who have self-immolated has further increased tension,” said the US delegate.
China continues to silence dissidents through arrest, conviction, forced disappearances, extra legal detention, and other forms of intimidations, US added.
The America delegate further highlighted the tightened controls on Internet and the persecution of human rights lawyers and accused China of impeding civil society and harassing domestic and international journalists.
Germany while raising strong concerns about the recent reports of “detention and harsh sentences against Tibetans charging them with incitement and incitements to self-immolation” urged China “to address the deep rooted causes of ongoing self-immolations in peaceful manner respecting cultural and religious rights of Tibetans.”
The country also encouraged China to facilitate the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in near the future.
Czech Republic said it remains “deeply concerned” by the continuing self-immolations in Tibet and the detention and prosecution of Tibetans who have “allegedly been associated” with self-immolation protests.
Austria and Sweden both raised similar concerns over the situation in Tibet, calling upon China to ensure that the rights of all minorities including Tibetans and Uyghurs are respected.
“We are particularly alarmed by the rising number of self-immolations among Tibetans,” the Austrian delegation said.
The Human Rights Council’s 22nd Session began February 25 and will conclude on March 22.
Since 2009, as many as 107 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile.