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Human Rights Watch calls on UN to address Tibet's rights crisis

New York, Fri, 21 Sep 2012 ANI

New York, Sep.21 (ANI): Governments concerned about the worsening human rights situation in Tibet should meet on the sidelines of next week's United Nations General Assembly to discuss the formation of a Tibet contact group, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has said.

A contact group could press the Chinese government to consider resuming meaningful negotiations with Tibetan representatives, and visibly demonstrate heightened international concern about deteriorating conditions, Human Rights Watch said.

"The response of governments to the Chinese government's renewed crackdown in Tibet is hardly commensurate to the scope and scale of the crisis," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. "Concerned governments should set aside fears of irking Beijing and press China to respect Tibetans' basic rights."

Human Rights Watch also urged governments to express support for the longstanding requests by UN special rapporteurs, as well as diplomats, journalists, and other independent monitors, to have access to Tibetan areas.

The Chinese government, in response to a wave of self-immolations, has strengthened its blackout on information and communications into and out of Tibet, increased repressive security operations, and multiplied arbitrary detentions. In 2012, 38 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, 32 fatally; some stated that they were doing so to protest Chinese government policies. The government continues to bar independent observers to the region.

In August 2012, Chinese officials responded to protests with sweeping arrests, detentions, and further controls, especially inside monasteries. Tibetan human rights groups reported the arrest of three monks from Tsodun (Caodeng in Chinese) monastery in Ma'erkang County (Barkham in Tibetan) on August 12, and two more arrests on August 16. On each of the intervening nights, armed police entered the monastery and beat and questioned the monks, purportedly asking about those individuals who had self-immolated. No reasons for the arrests are known to have been given. A similar armed raid on Zilkar monastery in Chenduo county (Trindu in Tibetan), Qinghai, on September 1 resulted in the detention of five monks and the confiscation of computers and other items.

Ever-increasing government restrictions on religion, culture, and other basic freedoms have led to at least some of the self-immolations in recent years, Human Rights Watch said. A total of 51 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibetan areas since February 2009, and of the 38 immolations in 2012, seven took place in August alone. In several cases the deaths of people who set themselves on fire triggered incidents or protests involving several hundred people, with thousands attending funerals.

Rather than attempt to address underlying grievances, the Chinese government's primary response has been to increase security presence and restrictive regulations across the region. (ANI)

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