Government Statements on Tibet Immolations

Last Updated: March 4, 2013 13:24EST

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United States

March 1, 2013
› State Department Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Tibetans are again still asking for more freedom and human rights. And one after another, almost every day, one Tibetan putting themself on fire and now it’s expanding to even Kathmandu in Nepal. So anybody will talking to the Chinese? What’s the future of the Tibetans now if this continues the trend among Tibetans?

MR. VENTRELL: Yeah. Thank, Goyal. We remain concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, including the numerous tragic self-immolations that have occurred and related reports of detentions and arrests. We’ve also seen, as you mentioned, in Nepal, self-immolations. We continue to call on the Chinese Government to permit Tibetans to express grievances freely, publicly, peacefully, and without fear of retribution. And we urge Tibetans to end self-immolations.


February 1, 2013
› State Department Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: (Inaudible) question on Tibet. This week two Tibetans were sentenced by a Chinese court over self-immolation. What’s your reaction to that? How do you see this?

MS. NULAND: We are aware that there are reports that Chinese authorities have handed down sentences to two Tibetans for allegedly inciting the self-immolation of others. As we have regularly said, the United States wants to see these kinds of tragic acts of self-immolation come to an end, and we continue both publicly and privately to urge the Chinese government at all levels to address policies in Tibet – in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. And we take this opportunity once again to call on the Chinese government to permit Tibetans to express their grievances freely, publicly, peacefully, and without fear of retribution.


February 7, 2013
› State Department Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Madam, it looks like that China is running away from the truth of what’s happening in Tibet, and Tibetans are now more and more putting themselves on fire or self-immolations. And now the Chinese media is accusing the U.S.-based VOA, Voice of America, and what they are saying is that American Government – supported by the U.S. Government, the VOA is behind all those what they are alleging that self-immolation by the Tibetans. Any comments on that? Because VOA, they have denied any allegations of the – by the Chinese Government.

MS. NULAND: Well, that’s what I was going to say, that VOA put out a very strong statement denying any involvement. I’ll refer you to Scott in the back of the room.

QUESTION: But what I’m – (laughter).

QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, since the Secretary of State is the de facto or the ex – I don’t know what it’s called – the figurehead of the BBG —

MS. NULAND: Of the Broadcast Board of Governors.

QUESTION: Yes. Do you not have a – do you not have any additional comment from what VOA said? I mean, they can deny it all they want, but it seems like a rather scandalous thing to say to suggest that VOA is responsible for people setting themselves on fire.

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously VOA has made clear that they were not involved, and we support VOA in that statement.

QUESTION: But do you know if this was – this subject has been raised with the Chinese at an official level? I mean, this is a – I mean, this is —

MS. NULAND: I expect that it will be.

QUESTION: Madam, can I just follow quickly? As far as your problem in Tibet is concerned, if U.S. has any roadmap for the Tibetan people as far as their – for their human rights and for their religious rights and freedom of the press in Tibet, like talking to India, U.S., and the Chinese. Any kind of – are you planning, or there should be now Dalai Lama is calling on the U.S. to help his people.

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Goyal, in almost every encounter we have at a senior level with Chinese officials we raise our concerns about human rights in general, about Tibet specifically, and we urge the Chinese Government to engage in a substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representative without preconditions as a means of addressing the grievances that the people of Tibet have and to relieve tensions. And we continue to call on Chinese Government officials to permit Tibetans to express their grievances freely, publicly, and peacefully, without fear of retribution.


December 11, 2012
› Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues; remarks delivered by Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
› EU Mission To The United States, Washington, DC
› Remarks

[Excerpt]
And we look to our European allies to help improve security and build new relationships in Asia. As Secretary Clinton said, “our pivot to Asia is not a pivot away from Europe. On the contrary, we want Europe to engage more in Asia along with 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 United States is deeply concerned and saddened by the continuing violence in Tibetan areas of China and the increasing frequency of self-immolations by Tibetans.

Chinese authorities have responded to these tragic incidents with measures that tighten already strict controls on the freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and association of Tibetans. Official rhetoric that denigrates the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and those that have self-immolated has further exacerbated tensions.

The United States government has consistently urged the Chinese government to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions. These policies include increasingly severe government controls on Tibetan Buddhist religious practice and monastic institutions; education practices that undermine the preservation of Tibetan language; intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of Tibetans, including youth and Tibetan intellectual and cultural leaders; escalating restrictions on news, media and communications; and the use of force against Tibetans seeking peacefully to exercise their universal human rights.


December 5, 2012
› Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
› Statement

The United States is deeply concerned and saddened by the continuing violence in Tibetan areas of China and the increasing frequency of self-immolations by Tibetans. Chinese authorities have responded to these tragic incidents with measures that tighten already strict controls on freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and association of Tibetans. Official rhetoric that denigrates the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and those who have self-immolated has further exacerbated tensions.

Senior U.S. officials have directly raised the issue of Tibetan self-immolations with their Chinese government counterparts. The U.S. Government has consistently urged the Chinese government to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions. These policies include increasingly severe government controls on Tibetan Buddhist religious practice and monastic institutions; education practices that undermine the preservation of Tibetan language; intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of Tibetans, including youth and Tibetan intellectual and cultural leaders; escalating restrictions on news, media and communications; and the use of force against Tibetans seeking peacefully to exercise their universal human rights.

We call on the Chinese Government to permit Tibetans to express their grievances freely, publicly, peacefully, and without fear of retribution. We hope that the tragic acts of self-immolation end. We call on China’s leaders to allow journalists, diplomats and other observers unrestricted access to China’s Tibetan areas. We call on the Chinese Government to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions.


December 4, 2012
› Assistant Secretary of State For Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner
› Speaking to media in Geneva

MEDIA: If you don’t mind, it’s on a slightly different topic. But I understand recently you met the families of Tibetan self-immolators and I wanted to ask what you learned and what you think China should be doing, what are China’s responsibilities in respect to this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Assistant Secretary Posner: We met last week with three family members of people who had self-immolated in the last couple of years. It’s a tragic situation. I think there are now more than 80 people who have self-immolated in and around Tibet. As Victoria Nuland said last week, we are urging the government of China to respect the cultural and linguistic and other basic rights of the Tibetan people, and we’re also urging that there be a direct discussion between the government and representatives of the Dali Lama.

So we very much hope that the desperation that led to these acts can be alleviated by more attention to the basic rights of the Tibetan people.

View online »


December 1, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Yesterday, the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Affairs, Michael Posner, also met with the relatives of Tibetan self-immolators. Do you have a readout of that? Because the toll of the Tibetans’ self-immolation has been increasing every day.

MS. NULAND: I do. We will have a larger statement on the Tibetan situation next week, but just to confirm the report that you have that yesterday, Assistant Secretary Mike Posner did meet with relatives of Tibetans who had recently self-immolated in the Tibetan area. He expressed our deepest condolences and our grave concern for the spiraling violence and harsh crackdown in Tibetan areas as well as grief with regard to the self-immolations.

You know our policy with regard to this and our concerns. We remain very concerned about rising tensions that result from counterproductive policies, including those that limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Tibet, and we are disturbed by reports of violence between police and student protestors that left 20 students injured after a protest earlier this week by approximately a thousand Tibetan medical students in Qinghai province against a government-issued booklet which derided the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and self-immolators.

So we are going to continue to raise this publicly and privately and urge the Chinese Government at all levels to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. But again, we will have more to say on the Tibet issue next week.

QUESTION: May I ask what occasion next week would this be –

MS. NULAND: It’s something that we are organizing. I frankly don’t have the details.

QUESTION: Where was the meeting (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: It was here.

QUESTION: And how did these people get here?

MS. NULAND: I think to —

QUESTION: Were they invited specifically because they –

MS. NULAND: I think in order to protect them and their families, I won’t go into any more detail. If we have any more to share, I’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Well, but I mean, they – they’re not American citizens, correct? Or are they?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything more to share at the moment specifically so that we can protect them from further reprisal.

QUESTION: And how many relatives were there?

MS. NULAND: Altogether, there were three families. I don’t have the details.


November 29, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Chinese announced the new leadership sort of less than a week ago. We had a chance, at the level of the President, to see Wen Jiabao in Cambodia, and there was a – as the readout of that made clear, there was a concerted effort on the Chinese part to talk about continuity. But obviously they have – we will see how we go forward.

With regard to the immolations in Tibet, we obviously make those points as often as we can, and we have been concerned about the accelerating level of these and continue to raise it with the Chinese side.


November 28, 2012
› U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke
› Interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour

AMANPOUR: We want to know from your perspective whether the new leader will Xi Jinping will be any different on Tibet, for instance, because there have been many burnings by ethnic Tibetans and there have been four reported just today in China. I know you’ve met with some ethnic Tibetans. What do you think is the prospect for any different kind of relationship, Ambassador.

LOCKE: Well, we’ll just have to wait and see but obviously the United States is very concerned about the situation, the heightened tensions in the Tibetan areas, the deplorable self-immolations and of course just the Chinese policies of the Chinese government at all levels. And we’re publicly and privately constantly urging the Chinese to re-examine some of their policies that threaten the linguistic identity, the cultural identity, and religious identity of the Tibetan people.

AMANPOUR: And if I might, the new leader, Xi Jinping, his father was known to have worn a watch given to him by the Dalai Lama. So, again, do you have any hope or anticipation that there might be some kind of different relationship between China and not only the ethnic Tibetans in China but Tibet itself?

LOCKE: Well, I think that’s certainly a hope but whether or not those hopes will be realized will have to be seen. China’s really ruled by a Committee of seven, the standing committee of the Politburo. And its going to have to be leadership by consensus and of course, Xi Jinping will be the first among that seven, so we are very very hopeful. I think there are high expectations even by the Chinese people but we’ll just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, preserving the ethnic, religious, linguistic identity of the Tibetan people is a top priority for the U.S. government just as we are very concerned about all human rights issues and we believe that human rights has to be a fundamental part of U.S. foreign policy and we, very much urge the Chinese government publicly and privately to adhere to the universal principles, universal declaration of human rights, which are also part of the Chinese constitution.

Watch the interview »


November 16, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Two Tibetans died in self-immolation in China today. There has been no respite to it – this – I think more than 50 have died so far. Do you have anything on that? Have you brought this to the Chinese of late, the newly (inaudible) has come up?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know, Lalit, that we regularly raise our concern about the Tibetan self-immolations with Chinese authorities. We encourage China to work with authorities in Tibet to address the grievances of the people and to protect the cultural diversity of their country. So this is obviously – and to address the worsening human rights situation in Tibet – we will continue to do that.

QUESTION: And how did they respond when you raised these issues with them?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to speak for them, but this is something that comes up regularly when we talk about human rights in China.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up quickly.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: What (inaudible) are saying now really that we live now in 21st century and world is changing and freedoms are going around the globe, but as far as China’s rule is imposing more and more stricter on them, and the time has come for the United Nations and the United States and the world to stand for them now because it’s been going on for 50-plus years and otherwise violence will continue and China will continue to press because Chinese think that the way freedom is going around the globe, including the Middle East and all that, that it may not happen in China.

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve been clear for decades about our commitment to human rights in Tibet, that we want to see China address the underlying problems there, the threats to the distinctive culture and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people, and our grave concern about the fact that people would feel so desperate as to resort to self-immolation.

QUESTION: Is human rights or freedom for the people of Tibet, because they are asking for freedom – full freedom which they would have been freed for 50 years ago?

MS. NULAND: Well, our view of the status of Tibet hasn’t changed, but we want to see the human rights situation there and throughout China improve.


October 30, 2012
› Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke to an online forum

"We implore the Chinese to really meet with the representatives of the Tibetan people to address and re-examine some of the policies that have led to some of the restrictions and the violence and the self-immolations,” Locke said. “We have very serious concerns about the violence, of the self-immolations, that have occurred over the last several years,” he said, calling the incidents “very deplorable”. “Nobody wants that type of action, or of people having to resort to that type of action. Too many deaths,” he said.

View online »


October 24, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: In Tibet, could I get your reaction to reports that Chinese authorities are offering a reward to anyone who informs on anyone who’s planning self-immolation to protest Chinese rule? Fifty thousand Yuan, about $8,000.

MS. NULAND: I hadn’t seen this issue of the Chinese offering a reward. I think you know that we have consistently expressed our concern about the violence in the Tibetan areas, about the continuing pattern of self-immolations, heightened tensions, and Tibet in general. And we continue to both publicly and privately urge the Chinese Government at all levels to address the underlying policies in Tibet that have created these tensions and that threaten the cultural heritage of the region.


August 27, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: And also about – it’s reported by the Tibet Post International saying that two Tibetans – two – there are two Tibetans who put – who set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese repression. So any comment on this?

MS. NULAND: I haven’t seen reports of new immolations in the last couple of days. You know that whenever we see these tragic incidents, we again call on China to meet the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people within China to protect their human rights, to protect their way of life, and to work on these issues through dialogue. But I don’t have anything particular today.

QUESTION: Last week, the chairman and co-chair of Tom Lantos’s Human Rights Committee wrote a letter to Secretary Clinton on this Tibetan issue, increasing (inaudible) self-immolation (inaudible), but seeking – urging her to convene an international meeting on Tibet and also an international working group on Tibet. Has she received the letter? And what’s her thought on those two proposals?

MS. NULAND: You’re talking about the letter from Representatives McGovern and Wolf; is that the letter that you’re talking about? Yeah, we have received it. We haven’t responded to it yet. We’re looking at their proposals.


July 12, 2012
› Background Briefing at 2012 ASEAN Summit by Senior Administration Official
› In reference to a meeting between Secretary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang

[Excerpt]

And the Secretary, as is the case in all circumstances, raised both human rights issues, specific cases, and called on the Chinese to continue a serious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.


April 5, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Are you concerned about ongoing violence in Tibet? And one after another, they are putting themselves on fire or (inaudible). What they are saying is that China is destroying their culture and history and their livelihoods, and now time has come for the international community to intervene.

MR. TONER: Well, certainly we’ve been very vocal. And I would refer you to the numerous public statements we’ve made about our concerns about increasing these self-immolations and China’s actions vis-a-vis Tibet.

View full transcript »


March 28, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: I have one more on the Tibetan situation. Yesterday, one Tibetan self-immolated in Delhi when President Hu Jintao was visiting there and has been increasing such incidents inside Tibet. What is your assessment of the situation inside Tibet now?

MS. NULAND: Well, we speak to this issue regularly. We remain deeply concerned about the tensions and the human rights violations in the Tibetan areas. China’s own continuing vilification of the Dalai Lama and repeated accusations with regard to the Dalai Lama and saying that he’s directly involved adds to the Tibetan grievances and just makes the situation worse. So we continue to call on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans and to allow journalists in, et cetera.

QUESTION: Do the Chinese ever respond to your concerns?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talk about this every time we meet.

All right? Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

View full transcript »


March 9, 2012
› Pelosi Statement on the Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day

Contact: Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today to mark the 53rd anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day – the date of Tibetans’ peaceful uprising against harsh Chinese rule and the ensuing crackdown by Chinese authorities that devastated the Tibetan people and forced His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile:

"On Tibetan Uprising Day, we honor the many brave Tibetans who have lost their lives fighting for their religious freedom and human rights. We rededicate ourselves to the liberty and fundamental dignity for the Tibetan people – to economic and political empowerment for all Tibetans, and a future of stability and democracy for Tibet.

"With the Chinese military presence growing in recent months and more desperate Tibetans subjecting themselves to self-immolations, the need for action, for a substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama, for an end to violence and a commitment to peace, is as urgent as ever.

"On this anniversary, we call on the Chinese government to cease its religious repression, allow access to the region by journalists and international observers, and release Tibetan political prisoners, including the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima who was kidnapped as a young boy.

"The cause of Tibet continues to be a challenge to the conscience of the world. We must heed the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and we must not forget the people of Tibet and their ongoing struggle."


March 2, 2012
› Statement by Under Secretary Maria Otero, Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
› U.N. Human Rights Council

The United States remains gravely concerned about recent violence and continuing tensions in Tibetan areas of China. We call on all governments including China to respect the fundamental freedoms of religion and expression of all of its citizens including members of ethnic minorities.

View statement on UNmultimedia.org »


February 8, 2012
› House Democratic Leader Pelosi Statement on Recent Violence in Tibet

“Today, Tibetans around the world are holding vigils to call attention to the recent violence in Tibet and to express solidarity.

“In recent weeks, the Chinese government has intensified its crackdown; there have been reports of indiscriminate shootings by Chinese police forces resulting in the loss of life and injuries. Further, the disturbing trend of self-immolations by Tibetans reflect the desperation of the human rights situation and the need for the Chinese government to change its repressive policies against the Tibetan people.

“The Tibetan people have legitimate grievances after decades of harsh rule. They have been economically marginalized in their own land, imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political views, and forced to endure ‘patriotic education’ campaigns to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

“It is long past time for the Chinese government to enter into a meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan Government-In-Exile to produce a way forward that promotes peace and stability in China and Tibet.”

View on Pelosi.House.gov »


February 8, 2012
› Rep. Frank R. Wolf Tibet Statement

I stand in solidarity with all of the friends of Tibet who today have gathered in Washington, D.C. and in cities around the globe to testify to the deepening crisis in Tibet and find common cause with the suffering people of Tibet.

You are rightly holding vigil outside of the Chinese embassy for it is the Chinese government’s brutal and repressive policies which are the source of this human rights crisis.

The free world has been horrified by the string of self-immolations of Tibetans over the last year, including several monks and nuns. These peace-loving Tibetans have set themselves aflame in desperation at the abuses suffered by their people at the hands of the Chinese government.

I’ve been to Tibet. I’ve visited Buddhist monks and nuns in Drapchi Prison. I’ve met frightened Tibetans who quietly showed me their forbidden photos of the Dalai Lama. I am saddened by the recent loss of life but unsurprised that the people of Tibet are crying out for the world to recognize their plight and take action on their behalf.

In recent months, Western reporters trying to visit Tibet have been turned away by security forces. As many as 11 innocent Tibetans, according to some estimates, were killed when police fired into a crowd of peaceful protestors. Chinese troops have been moved into the region. Internet access has been shut down. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Lest any officials think of going soft, Tibet’s official newspaper warned that leaders who fail to maintain stability would lose their jobs. A ‘thankfulness education’ campaign requires Tibetans to hang the portraits of Chinese leaders in homes.”

The stakes are high in Tibet and the Chinese government knows it. They are tightening their grip on the region.

I have urged U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to raise the government’s repressive policies in Tibet with senior Chinese party officials and publicly use his platform to make it clear to the Tibetan people that they have a friend in the United States of America.

Furthermore, I call on President Obama, during his visit next week with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to publicly voice his strong concern about the current atmosphere in Tibet and the repressive policies of the Chinese government, which are directly impacting the everyday lives of Tibetans. I also urge the president to continue to push for Lhasa to be the next U.S. consulate in China.

In a Constitution Day speech, President Ronald Reagan famously described our founding documents, which enshrine base liberties, as a “covenant we have made not only with our ourselves, but with all of mankind.” We risk breaking that covenant with the people of Tibet if we do not champion their cause during this time of need.


January 24, 2012
› Statement by Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, and United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues

As United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I am gravely concerned by reports of violence and continuing heightened tensions in Tibetan areas of China, including reports of security forces in Sichuan province opening fire on protesters, killing some and injuring others.

These reports follow the self-immolation of four Tibetans earlier this month, bringing the number of reported self-immolations by Tibetans to 16—mostly monks and former monks, and two nuns—since March 2011.

The U.S. Government consistently and directly has raised the issue of Tibetan self-immolations with the Chinese government. The U.S. Government repeatedly has urged the Chinese government to address the counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.

As I have noted previously, these policies include dramatically expanded Chinese government controls on religious life and practice; ongoing “patriotic education” campaigns within monasteries that require monks to denounce the Dalai Lama; the permanent placement of Chinese officials in monasteries; increasingly intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of Tibetans; and restrictions on and imprisonment of some families and friends of self-immolators. Over the last year, Chinese government security and judicial officials also have detained and imprisoned Tibetan writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural advocates who criticized Chinese government policies.

We call on the Chinese government to safeguard the universal human rights of all of China’s citizens. We urge Chinese security forces to exercise restraint, and we renew our call to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for journalists, diplomats and other observers. We call on the Chinese government to resume substantive, results-oriented dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to address the underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population.

View on HumanRights.gov »


January 9, 2012
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Also on China, just over the past weekend, three monks in Tibet did the self-immolation. That’s the – new cases in this year. So I’m wondering if you have any comments on that.

MS. NULAND: We do. We’re seriously concerned by reports that three more Tibetans have self-immolated over the past few days. Since March, this brings the count to some 15 Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations in China. We have consistently – the U.S. Government has consistently and directly raised with the Chinese Government this issue of Tibetan self-immolation.

These actions clearly represent enormous anger, enormous frustration with regard to the severe restrictions on human rights, including religious freedom inside China. And we have called the Chinese Government policies counterproductive and have urged the Chinese Government to have a productive dialogue to loosen up in Tibet and allow journalists and diplomats and other observers to report accurately and to respect the human rights of all of their citizens

View full transcript »


November 17, 2011
› Letter to US Ambassador to China Gary Locke
› United States Congress: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Dear Ambassador Locke:

You have undoubtedly seen news reports of the recent wave of self-immolations of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns since March of this year in desperation at the abuses suffered by her people. Just last week a second nun did the same. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, she apparently called for religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama before setting herself aflame.

Recently the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on which we serve held a hearing during which we heard form Dr. Lobsang Sangay with the Central Tibetan Administration and His Eminence Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche with Kirti Monasteries. Their testimony was moving and deeply disturbing. They spoke of the abuses suffered by the Tibetan people which in recent months have driven these peace-loving people to desperate forms of protest.

In light of these realities, we urge you, in your capacity as U.S. ambassador to visit Tibet. Speak with the Tibetan people and faith leaders. Press for a fact-finding mission into the Kirti monastery which has featured prominently in the recent wave of self-immolations. Raise the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet with senior party officials and publicly use your platform as Ambassador to make it clear to the Tibetan people that they have a friend in the United States of America.

You are uniquely positioned to reflect American values and priorities to the Chinese people and the Government of China. In that light, it is important for you as the lead representative of the United States in China to publically declare that the Chinese government must respect the peaceful religious, political, civic, and cultural expressions of the Tibetan people. For the United States, this is both morally imperative and politically prudent

We wish you continued success as Ambassador to China and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Frank R. Wolf, Member of Congress
James P. McGovern, Member of Congress
Joseph R. Pitts, Member of Congress

This letter was made available on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission website »
Download the letter as a PDF »


November 10, 2011
› Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
› East-West Center, Honolulu, HI

[Excerpt]

We have made very clear our serious concerns about China’s record on human rights. When we see reports of lawyers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up both publicly and privately. We are alarmed by recent incidents in Tibet of young people lighting themselves on fire in desperate acts of protest, as well as the continued house arrest of the Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng. We continue to call on China to embrace a different path.

View full statement »


November 4, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Different topic? Yesterday, a Tibetan nun set herself on fire and died. This is the 11th instance of this – these people setting – self-immolations. I don’t know if all 11 have died. Do you regard the Chinese Government’s rule of Tibet as the fundamental cause for this?

MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t speak directly to the cause of this. Obviously, you’d have to speak to the community where this is happening. But obviously, we have consistently and directly raised with the Chinese Government our concerns about Tibetan self-immolations, and we have repeatedly urged the Chinese Government to address its counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the unique religious, cultural, linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. We’ve also repeatedly urged the Chinese Government to allow access to all Tibetan areas of China for journalists, diplomats, and other observers so that we can get accurate information and so that you can get accurate information.

And let me take this opportunity to again call on the Government of China to respect the rights of all of its citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized freedoms, and particularly the rights of Tibetans to resolve their underlying grievances with the Government of China.

QUESTION: Can you cite the counterproductive policies that you’re referring to, or any others of them that you’re referring to?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think that some of these policies are well known – destruction of religious property, displacement of people, replacement of people in sensitive religious areas, et cetera.

QUESTION: And have you – you said that you have raised and continue to raise directly. How have you done that? Has that been through the Embassy in Beijing? Has that been here in Washington? Has there been anything particularly recent on this?

MS. NULAND: Well, my understanding is since this new spate of self-immolations has begun, we’ve had extensive conversations based in Beijing with our – from our Embassy personnel. But as you know, Assistant Secretary Campbell and others have raised these issues directly and regularly, as has the Secretary, on the larger issue of the rights of Tibetan people within China.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Goyal.

QUESTION: Just as far as Tibetan issue is concerned, they have been demonstrating here, also in India, and there is much concern in Dharamsala in India. What I’m asking you, Madam, is: Are you planning or Secretary any kind of special envoy through the United Nations or U.S., somebody that – for their issues and for their concern with the Chinese?

MS. NULAND: Well, we do have a special envoy for religious freedom who addresses this issue. We have our assistant secretary for human rights who addresses these freedom – these issues. We have Maria Otero, our Under Secretary for Global Affairs, who is designated also as the Secretary’s special representative on Tibetan issues. So these issues are very well represented in this building.

QUESTION: And finally, since this is a concern to India very much next door, also tension is over Dalai Lama and over Tibet with China and India. Are you talking also something with the Indian Government or Indian officials? Or are they talking to you about this issue?

MS. NULAND: Well, we regularly talk about Tibet issues with the Government of India.

View full transcript »


November 3, 2011
› Statement of Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and Commissioner, CECC
› U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing on Congressional-Executive Commission on China: 2011 Annual Report

[Excerpt]

As U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I would like to draw attention to a number of the Commission’s findings on Tibet. Over the last year, Tibetans who peacefully expressed disagreement with government policy faced increased risk of punishment, as the Chinese government continued to criminalize such expression under the guise of “safeguarding social stability.” The Chinese government also substantially increased state infringement of freedom of religion in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. Government security and judicial officials detained and imprisoned Tibetan writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural advocates who lamented or criticized government policies.

In July, when I participated on the Commission’s panel, “The Dalai Lama: What He Means for Tibetans Today,” I noted my deep concern with the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China, and specifically with the abuse and forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery and the heavy security presence there. The recent self-immolations of young Tibetans, many of whom have been affiliated with Kirti Monastery, are desperate acts that reflect intense frustration with human rights conditions, including religious freedom, inside China. The Commission has thoroughly documented the policies that many believe have created escalating tensions and a growing sense of isolation and despair among Tibetans. These policies include dramatically expanded government controls on religious life and practice, ongoing “patriotic education” campaigns within monasteries that require monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, increasingly intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of hundreds of monks, and restrictions on and imprisonment of some families and friends of self-immolators.

The U.S. government repeatedly has urged the Chinese government to address its counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. Senior State Department officials have consistently and directly raised with the Chinese government the issue of Tibetan self-immolations. We have urged the Chinese government to allow access to Tibetan areas for journalists, diplomats and other observers. We also have asked the Chinese government to resume substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. When President Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House in July, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans.

View full statement »


November 2, 2011
› Congressman Frank Wolf, Washington DC
› Statement at House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

“Since March, 10 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves aflame in desperation at the abuses suffered by their people. One such nun is pictured here. Recently, cameramen smuggled out video footage of Chinese police in full riot gear carrying automatic rifles and iron bars outside of the monastery where several of the self-immolations occurred.”


October 19, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Have we raised the issue of Tibetan self-immolations with the Chinese government?

ANSWER: Yes, we have, and we remain seriously concerned by reports, since April, of eight Tibetan Buddhist monks and one nun self-immolating at or near the Ngaba Kirti monastery in China’s Sichuan province. These acts clearly represent anger and frustration with regard to Tibetan human rights, including religious freedom, inside China. We again call on the Chinese Government to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized freedoms; and particularly to respect the rights of Tibetans; to resolve the underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population. We urge Chinese leaders to address counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions; and to protect Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity.

October 18, 2011, Daily Press Briefing »


October 18, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: A Tibetan nun set herself on fire yesterday after, I believe, Chinese forces shot and wounded – police shot and wounded two Tibetan demonstrators. This is all from the Free Tibet group. Do you have any comment?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry. Go ahead and finish.

QUESTION: Please.

MR. TONER: I just said we’re aware of these reports and – or we’re very – we’re seriously concerned by, in fact, by – over the last couple of days – it was another report, I think, yesterday of a self-immolation of a Tibetan monk and then of course today’s report of the nun immolating – self-immolating. In the light of the continuing underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population, we would urge China and its leaders to respect the rights of Tibetans, to address some of the policies in these areas – Tibetan areas that have created tension, and to protect the Tibetan’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity.

QUESTION: Have you – beyond this public comment about it, have you raised it recently with the Chinese?

MR. TONER: Raised it recently? I’d have – I’ll have to check on that, whether we’ve raised it.

QUESTION: Like since –

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thanks.

October 18, 2011, Daily Press Briefing »


October 11, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the immolations of young monks in Tibet?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve said a number of times in recent weeks, we are very concerned about this trend and the clear anger and frustration and concern that it represents with regard to Tibetan human rights inside China. And we have repeatedly – and will do it here again – called on the Chinese Government to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized freedoms; and particularly to respect the rights of Tibetans; and to address policy in Tibet in areas that have created tensions; and to protect Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity.

October 11, 2011, Daily Press Briefing »


September 27, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: What is the State Department’s response to press reports that two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire at a monastery in western China to protest Chinese policies in the area?

ANSWER: We are seriously concerned by reports of two recent self-immolations of monks from the Ngaba Kirti monastery in China’s Sichuan province. In light of the continuing underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population, we again urge Chinese leaders to respect the rights of Tibetans, to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tension, and to protect Tibetans’ unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity. We continue to urge the Chinese Government to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for both journalists and diplomats.

September 27, 2011, Daily Press Briefing »


July 13, 2011
› Remarks by Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
› Congressional Executive Commission on China: Roundtable on "The Dalai Lama: What He Means For Tibetans Today"

[Excerpt]

The Administration’s goals on Tibetan issues are twofold. First, it is to promote a substantive, results oriented dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Second, it is to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages. The Administration at all levels – from the President, Secretary, Assistant Secretaries, to myself – has urged the Chinese Government to engage in a dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama. We remind the Chinese government that the vast majority of Tibetans advocate non-violent solutions to Tibetan issues and genuine autonomy – not independence or sovereignty – in order to preserve Tibet’s unique culture, religion and its fragile environment. Regrettably, the Chinese government has not engaged in a substantive dialogue with the Tibetans since January 2010.

I want to take this opportunity to briefly mention some of our concerns and ongoing activities. We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other ethnic Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces. Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans, and the heavy security presence reflect the difficult human rights situation there today. The forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery is also a cause for deep concern.

View full statement »


June 2, 2011
› Testimony by Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
› U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Status of implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002

[Excerpt]

We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas. Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans reflect the difficult human rights situation there today.

Religious restrictions in Tibetan areas have dramatically worsened in recent years. Discriminatory religious policies exacerbated tensions between Han Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists and triggered the 2008 riots that claimed the lives of Han and Tibetan civilians and police officers. Chinese authorities control Tibet’s monasteries, including the number of monks and nuns and interfere in the process of recognizing reincarnate lamas. Monks and nuns are forced to attend regular political “patriotic education” sessions which sometimes include forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. . Reports state that as many as 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti again in April of this year, and paramilitary forces still have the monastery on lockdown. To date, we have no further information about the welfare and whereabouts of those monks that were removed.

During the April 2011 Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing, Assistant Secretary Posner and I raised our concerns about China’s counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas of China, reiterated our call for a resumption of dialogue, and raised specific cases. We were joined in that effort by then-Ambassador Huntsman, who visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region in September 2010. The U.S. Mission in China has made visiting Tibetan areas and engaging on human rights and religious freedom in Tibetan areas a top priority. While in Beijing in April, we met with United Front Work Department, which handles Tibet policy for the Chinese Government, and pressed the Chinese to set a date with Lodi Gyari for the next round of talks. We also met with Minister Wang Zuo’an [WONG ZHUO AHN] from the State Administration of Religious Affairs. Separately, we provided to Chinese authorities a comprehensive list of individuals from across China who have been arrested or are missing; that list included many Tibetans, including six cases that we specifically mentioned in our meetings.

View full statement »


April 14, 2011
› Question Taken, Daily Press Briefing
› Mark C Toner, Acting Deputy Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

QUESTION: Mark, several Tibetan exile groups are alleging that the Chinese have a Tibetan monastery, Buddhist monastery, under siege at a place called Kirti, that they’re not letting food in and that are threatening to come in and take the – take away the monks of, apparently, military age. Anything on that?

MR. TONER: Yeah. Well, we have seen that Chinese security forces have cordoned off the Kirti monastery in Sichuan Province. They’ve also imposed onerous restrictions on the monks and the general public, and we believe these are inconsistent with internationally recognized principles of religious freedom and human rights. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are obviously concerned by it.

QUESTION: Is this —

QUESTION: Have you spoken with the Chinese on this issue?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. TONER: Yes.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. TONER: I believe we’ve raised it with the Chinese, as we would raise any human rights concerns.

QUESTION: Here in —

MR. TONER: I don’t know.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

April 14, 2011, Daily Press Briefing »

Germany

November 28, 2012
› German government response to a verbal request during the previous week’s session of the parliament
› Translation: ICT-Germany

REPLY State Minister Cornelia Pieper to the question of MP Manuel Sarrazin (Alliance 90/Greens)
"Has the German government raised the human rights situation of Tibetans during the Sino-German human rights dialogue on 8 and 9 October 2012? Which concrete cases has the government raised”

During the Sino-German human rights dialogue on 8 and 9 October 2012 the situation of minorities was one of the two major topics, on request of the federal government. We have raised the difficult situation in Tibetan regions – particularly in face of the ongoing self-immolations – and reiterated our expectations towards the Chinese policies there. This means particularly the respect for human rights of the Tibetans and respect for their religious and cultural identity.

The Federal Government, additionally, has raised cases of detained Tibetans. I am asking for your understanding that I cannot elaborate here in these individual cases."

View online (German – Page 25611) »


November 24, 2012
› Federal German Government’s human rights policy report (March 2010-February 2012)
› Translation: ICT-Germany

[Excerpt] “Particular worrisome is the human rights situation in Tibet and Xinjiang. Freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are suppressed more heavily in these regions than in others. The Central Government continues to relentlessly persecute any (even alleged) endeavor for autonomy or independence. The self-immolations of young Tibetan monks and nuns at the monastery of Kirti – a place confronted with extraordinary repressive measures – were particularly desperate expressions of protest against these politics of repression."

View the report online (German) »


February 4, 2012
› Statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel
› Following visit with Chinese leaders in Beijing

"We spoke about the overall situation of human rights. The issue of Tibet also came up as one of many subjects that certainly gave us concern."


January 24, 2012
› Press release (Translated by ICT)
› Human Rights Commissioner expresses concern about situation in Chinese province of Sichuan

In the region of Luhuo of the Chinese province of Sichuan, which is inhabited by Tibetans, there were clashes when Tibetans were arrested while distributing leaflets. There were deaths and injured persons. The state-run news agency Xinhua has confirmed the incident.

Referring to this, the German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Markus Loening, stated the following today (24 January 24, 2012) in Berlin:

“I am very concerned about reports of Tibetans being killed and injured yet again during demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrations are guaranteed by the right of freedom of speech. They should also stay peaceful.

I demand that the Chinese government to respect this right. I also urge that the injured persons may receive medical care, without fear of being arrested.

Measures against the Tibetan population, which violate internationally recognized human rights, must be put to an end.

I call on the Chinese government to act in a de-escalative manner in view of the tense situation in this region and to respect the culture and religion of the Tibetans. The self-immolations of the past months demonstrate in a tragic way the desperation of some Tibetans about their situation.”


October 21, 2011
› DPA press release (Translated by ICT)
› "Federal government ‘horrified’ at self-immolations in Tibet

The federal government is ‘horrified’ at the rising number of self-immolations in the Tibetan regions of Southwest-China. The foreign office urged China on Friday to ‘shape their policies in a way that existing tensions are relieved.’ It asked the Dalai Lama – the religious head of the Tibetans – to discourage young monks and nuns from further self-immolations.

Out of protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet, at least nine persons have self-immolated in the Tibetan region of Sichuan province since March. For the first time this week a young nun was among the Tibetans who self-immolated. The center of tensions is the monastery of Kirti on the edges of Aba town (Tib.: Ngaba).

The speaker of the foreign ministry, Andreas Peschke, said, the federal government had repeatedly urged China to allow for transparency and access to the monastery. The federal government was ‘in permanent contact on different levels’. At the same time, he asked the Dalai Lama to excert his influence so that "these young monks do not continue to go this terrible path."

United Kingdom

February 26, 2013
› UK House of Lords question time

› Baroness Warsi, The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office

(Response to questions asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool on self-immolations) We are deeply concerned about the large number of self-immolations in Tibet. We regularly raise our concerns with the Chinese authorities. My right honourable friend Hugo Swire issued a statement on 17 December. Tibet was discussed at the last round of the annual UK-China human rights dialogue in January 2012. We encourage all parties to work for a resumption of substantive dialogue as a means to address Tibetan concerns and to relieve tensions. We believe that long-term solutions depend on respect for human rights and genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the framework of the Chinese constitution. Our position on Tibet is clear and long-standing. We regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China.

I know that the noble Lord has a long-standing interest in this matter. Indeed, I have had an opportunity to look at the recommendations of the report that he mentions. I am sure he will be heartened by the fact that we agree, at least in part, with some of its recommendations about the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama returning to dialogue to take these matters forward bilaterally. Of course, I have real concern about the tragic cases of self-immolation. I have an opportunity to read the casework on some of them. Tragically, those who die do so at great loss to their communities and families, but those who survive end up suffering for many years with very little treatment. It is a matter that we continue to raise.

(Response to question asked by Lord Anderson of Swansea on human rights in Tibet) My Lords, we are concerned about the lack of meaningful dialogue to address the underlying grievances against a clearly worsening situation. We continue to encourage all parties to work for a resumption of substantive dialogue as a means to address the Tibetan concerns and to relieve tensions. Of course, we continue to make the case to China that any economic progress can be sustained only if there is social progress as well.

(Response to question asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood on dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities) Many of us around the world recognise the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader, but my noble friend will be aware of the position of the Chinese Government. That is not the way he is seen within the People’s Republic of China. The noble Lord will also be aware of the UK-China annual human rights dialogue, and we continue to raise these concerns at that point.

(Response to question asked by the Archbishop of York on China respecting the Dalai Lama as a religious leader) The most reverend Prelate raises an important wider issue: the freedom of religion within China and the recognition of religious groups and therefore of religious leaders. It is a matter that we raise in generic terms, although I cannot categorically say whether the specific issue of recognising the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader has been raised.

(Response to question asked by Lord Wills on the disappeared Panchen Lama) Representations were made about the young boy. Indeed, I think his name appeared on a specific list that was handed over during one of the UK-China human rights dialogues. We have also put forward the idea of him being allowed access to an independent organisation that could assess his current health and whereabouts.

View online »


December 18, 2012
› The Foreign Office

UK has serious concerns about human rights in Tibet

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire has said that the UK has serious concerns about the self-immolations in Tibetan regions. The FCO building from St James Park, London

Following a European Union statement on self-immolations in Tibet, Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said:

“We strongly support the recent statement from Baroness Ashton about the situation in Tibet. We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation there, including the self-immolations in Tibetan regions.

“We urge the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint. At the same time, I join Baroness Ashton in calling on Tibetans not to resort to extreme forms of protest such as self-immolation, and urge their community and religious leaders to use their influence to stop this tragic loss of life. We strongly support the resumption of meaningful dialogue to resolve the underlying grievances of Tibetan communities.

“I also urge the Chinese government to ensure unrestricted access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas of China 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.”

View online »


January 25, 2012
› The Foreign Office

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne has urged the Chinese government to exercise restraint following reports that Chinese security forces opened fire on protestors.

"I am deeply concerned at reports that Chinese security forces have fired upon protesters on two occasions in Tibetan areas of Sichuan, resulting in casualties. I urge the Chinese government to exercise restraint, to release full details of the incidents, and to work to resolve the underlying grievances.”


December 7, 2011
› UK House of Commons held a debate on the crisis in Tibet
› Henry Bellingham, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

On December 7, 2011, the UK House of Commons held a debate on the crisis in Tibet. Questions and debate came from Members of Parliament Simon Hughes, Jonathan Edwards, Nic Dakin, Cathy Jamieson and Jeremy Corbyn. Henry Bellingham responded for the government, who also addressed many aspects of the Tibet issue. The questions and full response can be found at parliament.uk. Mr. Bellingham’s remarks on the self-immolations is as follows:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Henry Bellingham):

The Government are seriously concerned about recent reports of self-immolations among nuns in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan province. We have closely followed those reports and other developments in the region. Let me describe the situation as it stands today. We are aware of 11 confirmed instances of monks and nuns in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan province who have self-immolated since March, and we know that four of those people died. We are aware of reports of a number of other attempted self-immolations, including one within the Tibetan autonomous region on 1 December, although those have not yet been confirmed.

The incidents began with the self-immolation on 16 March of Phuntsok, a monk at the Kirti monastery in Aba county, Sichuan. His immolation sparked a number of demonstrations and protests in the area, which by 12 April had led to a stand-off at the Kirti monastery between locals and monks on the one hand and Chinese security forces on the other. That ended on 21 April, when about 300 monks were removed from the monastery by the security forces. Their location and legal status has not been confirmed by the Chinese Government. Six of the 10 subsequent immolations have been by monks, or former monks, linked to the Kirti monastery.

We understand that there continues to be a high security presence at the monastery, and that a significant number of its monks have been dispersed away from the monastery grounds. The other immolations have been by two nuns, one in Aba county and the other in Daofu county, and two monks, one in Daofu county and one in Ganzi county – all in Sichuan province.

The Dalai Lama has made several public statements about the immolations, which he has said are the result of human rights violations caused by discriminatory Chinese policies in the region. The Chinese Government, on the other hand, have stated that the immolations are “politically motivated”, and that the Tibetan community in exile should be held responsible.

I assure my right hon. Friend, and other hon. Members, that the Government have been following developments closely. In terms of making a strong statement, as recently as 29 November my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that we should urge the Chinese Government to work with local monasteries and communities to resolve the grievances that have led to these self-immolations.

Furthermore, during his visit to China in November, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), the Minister of State, raised his concern about the immolations with Fu Ying, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister. He also wrote to the Chinese ambassador about the situation at the Kirti monastery, asking for information and calling for restraint. Officials have raised their concerns with the Chinese embassy in London and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.

At the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June this year, the EU issued a statement calling on the Chinese authorities to refrain from the use of force in dealing with the situation at the Kirti monastery, and to allow independent observers on to the site. British embassy officials have kept in frequent contact with the Foreign Affairs office in Sichuan and with local public security bureau offices, regarding access to those areas.

British diplomats were able to access neighbouring Tibetan areas in October, but we understand that access to the Kirti monastery remains severely limited. I assure my right hon. Friend that we will continue to urge the Chinese authorities to allow access to Tibetan areas for foreign diplomats and journalists, just as we will continue on a regular basis to raise the case of the Panchen Lama.


November 29, 2011
› Oral Answers to Questions, House of Commons
› Mr. William Hague, The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

NIC DAKIN (Scunthorpe) (Lab): What representations he has made to the Chinese Government following recent self-immolations in Tibet. [83284]

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (Mr William Hague): The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), raised our concerns about the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister in Beijing earlier this month.

NIC DAKIN: I advise the House of my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Recently, I met the Dalai Lama, who made clear his concern that all involved should work for a peaceful solution in line with the middle way. Does he share that approach?

MR HAGUE: We are seriously concerned about recent reports that young monks and nuns in Tibetan areas of Szechuan province have immolated themselves. As I said, we have taken that up with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, and with the Chinese embassy in London. We encourage, of course, the resolution of grievances that have led to that situation. We will continue to encourage the Chinese Government to take that constructive approach.

SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND (Kensington) (Con): As the Chinese Government have been able to recognise and respect the autonomy of both Hong Kong and Macau in the People’s Republic, should they not allow autonomy for Tibet, to ensure that, within the People’s Republic, its unique culture and identity are properly respected and recognised, and will the Government try to encourage it to do so?

MR HAGUE: My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very fair point indeed. As he knows, we recognise Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China, but we call for meaningful dialogue between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities in the interests of autonomy in future. Of course, we always call for respect for human rights.

MARTIN HORWOOD (Cheltenham) (LD): I am sure that the Foreign Secretary welcomed China’s recent recognition of the aspirations and rightful demands of the Syrian people. Does he think that that is a positive development, as China may be beginning to realise that repression does not deliver genuine stability, and it should have the confidence to recognise the aspirations and rightful demands of the Tibetan people, too?

MR HAGUE: Such language is positive and I continue to believe, as I said in the House yesterday, that the veto of our proposed UN resolution on Syria by Russia and China was a mistake and did not take into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. On the question of Tibet, we encourage the meaningful dialogue of which I spoke a moment ago.

Oral answers to questions (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): View full transcript »


October 21, 2011
› Extract from Foreign and Commonwealth Office update regarding Tibet

"On 15 August, a 29-year-old monk, Tsewang Norbu, from Nyitso Monastery in Tawu County, in Western Sichuan’s Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, died after setting himself on fire, apparently in protest against China’s policies in the region. On 2 September, three monks from Kirti Monastery were sentenced to between 10 and 13 years in prison for their alleged role in assisting a similar self-immolation in Ngaba County, Sichuan. We understand at least ten monks have now been imprisoned in connection to these incidents. The Chinese state news agency reported two subsequent self-immolations at the Kirti Monastery on 26 September. We have raised these incidents with the Chinese Embassy in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. British Embassy officials in China make regular visits to Tibetan areas, and have kept in frequent contact with the Foreign Affairs Office in Sichuan and local Public Security Bureau offices regarding access to these areas."

The 2010 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report »

Australia

November 3, 2011
› Michael Danby MP, Melbourne Ports, Australian Labor Party
› Parliament House, Canberra

[Excerpt]

Since March this year, 10 young Tibetans, including seven monks from the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, have set themselves alight to protest the Chinese government’s restrictions on their religious and political freedom. Chinese authorities are using extreme force in the crackdown on the Kirti Monastery, where they are enforcing a ‘patriotic re-education campaign’ and have imposed an indefinite ban on religious activities at that critical monastery. The number of monks in the monastery has gone from 2,500 to around 400. Since March Ngaba has seen the presence of civilian and military personnel patrolling the area.

Yesterday the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, said: “Intimidation of the lay and monastic community must be avoided, and the right of members of the monastic community and the wider community to freely practice their religion, should be fully respected by the Chinese Government.”

The restrictive and repressive measures enforced on the monks at Kirti include security raids and surveillance with police presence inside and outside the monastery to monitor religious activities. Over 300 monks have been disappeared by the Chinese authorities for “patriotic re-education” and many of them remain missing and unheard from by their families. A recent Human Rights Watch study found that per capita annual spending on public security in Ngaba was five times the average spent per person on public security in non-Tibetan areas of Sichuan.

The US State Department has called on China to respect human rights and the rights of Tibetans since the nine young Tibetans have set themselves on fire as a result of these restrictive Chinese practices. The US State Department said: “We urge Chinese leaders to address counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions; and to protect Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity.”

The crackdown on Tibetan monks since 2008 has been brutal. Beijing continues to restrict foreign journalists from travelling to Tibetan areas, jam radio broadcasts of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan and Chinese language services. This is part of a strategy to eliminate the remnants of Tibetan identity and cultural heritage. The Chinese authorities continue to repress Tibetan culture.

On 19 October 2010, a decision was made to replace Tibetan with Mandarin as the main medium of instruction in Tibetan schools in the Qinghai province. Freedom of movement of monks and nuns is extremely limited within Lhasa and Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Last year in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan province, the Chinese government reportedly continued to remove monks under the age of 18, unregistered monks and monks and nuns from outside the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The process of eliminating Tibetan culture and the removal of monks and nuns is a direct violation of the freedom of religion. The Australian government is deeply concerned about reports of self-immolations by monks and nuns. Australian officials last week made renewed representations in Canberra and Beijing to their Chinese counterparts about these reports. Our embassy in Beijing has raised our concerns about reports of the continuing crackdown around the monastery and the province and increased security measures in the Tibetan areas. I entreat the Chinese authorities to respect the religious rights of Tibetan monks and to cease their repressive actions against those in the Kirti Monastery.

Canada

December 14, 2012
› Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Canada Concerned about Rash of Tibetan Self-Immolations

“I am concerned about the escalating number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China and the increasingly punitive measures being taken in response, which further exacerbate tensions in the region.

“Canada supports Tibetans’ freedoms of expression, assembly and association. That anyone should feel such an end is justified by these means is a striking testament to Tibetans’ deep yearning for greater religious, linguistic and cultural rights.

“Canada encourages China to give full consideration to the traditions and culture of the Tibetan population in a manner that will help ease tensions. We call on China to lift restrictions on access to the affected areas for the diplomats, media and other observers.

“We urge China to engage in substantive and meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives in working toward a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues that is acceptable to both sides.”

View online »


November 9, 2011
› House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada

Four Canadian members of Parliament representing all four federal political parties, spoke up for Tibet in the Canadian House of Commons on 2 November in solidarity with the Tibetan people.

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament, I rise with pride today, but also with solemnity, on the occasion of marking a vigil which is taking place outside these doors. Canadian Tibetans are in vigil in solidarity with so many Tibetans who are experiencing oppression due to the Chinese government policies toward Tibet. The desperation of these people has now led to self-immolation acts, an act of desperation for anyone who understands Buddhist religion and culture. This is the sign that things have become a crisis for those in Tibet. In the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “We must find a peaceful way forward”. The European parliament, just days ago, October 27, passed a resolution calling on China to act. I would urge all Hon. Members to join with the European Union and help protect religious rights in Tibet.

Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today, Tibetans and supporters from around the world are gathering to take part in a global day of action. From Zurich, to San Diego, to Vancouver, to right outside our doors, people are coming together to seek justice for the people of Tibet. Ten young Tibetans have set themselves on fire in eastern Tibet since March 2011. In fact, eight since September. These unprecedented and truly desperate acts are a cry to the outside world for help. China has intensified its violent crackdown in Ngaba and across Tibet. Tibetan monasteries continue to be sacked and monks continue to be sentenced without fair trial. It is time for the government to act. It is time for the Government of Canada to take a lead in coordinating an international response to condemn the Chinese government’s repressive measures against the Tibetans. Canada should also work to ensure the United Nations to immediately send a fact finding mission to Ngaba to assess the situation. We cannot afford to waste another day.

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, 10 young Tibetans have set themselves ablaze, a set of unprecedented and desperate actions, to protest the Chinese repression of Tibetan rights and assaults on the monks and nuns of Tibetan monasteries. Accordingly, we call on the Chinese authorities to release those imprisoned simply because they exercised their right to freedom of religion and expression, to cease and desist from their assaults on the Tibetan people, and to enter into dialogue with the Tibetan leadership. We call on the Canadian government, in concert with world leaders, on this global day of action, to stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people to condemn the repression by Chinese authorities and to nurture dialogue with the Tibetan leadership with a view to protecting the human security of the Tibetan people.

Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today Tibetans and supporters have gathered outside this very building in a desperate cry to stop the crackdown on religious freedom in their region. Canada has expressed its serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including continuing restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association, religion and belief of ethnic Tibetans. We remain concerned about the arbitrary detention and treatment of political prisoners in Tibet and have raised the issue of Tibetans and other religious minorities in China in bilateral meetings and on the international stage, including at the United Nations General Assembly. Our government takes the issue of religious freedom in China and around the world very seriously. The freedoms of religious belief and practice are at the heart of our principled foreign policy. We do not hesitate to raise such issues as part of mutually respectful, mature dialogue between our two countries and encourage substantive dialogue between Chinese leaders and religious minorities.

View statements on Tibet.net »

Poland

October 28, 2011
› Below is part of letter of reply by Deputy Director of Asia and Pacific Desk on Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Tibetan Community in Poland’s appeal – Original in Polish, translated by Tibetan community in Poland.

"Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the utmost care and concern is watching developments around the Kirti monastery. Particularly moving is information regarding new acts of self-immolation among young Tibetans – their tragic loss of life and are the cause of sincere sorrow of Polish society.

Poland supports the establishment of dialogue between the authorities of the PRC and the Dalai Lama’s representatives, which would lead to an agreement allowing the Tibetans to nurture their cultural identity, while respecting the territorial integrity of China. We also believe that it is necessary to the international community’s dialogue with the PRC on the observance of generally accepted human rights standards. Poland, in dealing with their European partners, consistently supports the fact that human rights was one of the important dimensions of the EU’s relations with Beijing. This position was presented during preparations for this year’s Summit EU – China."

Switzerland

November 22, 2011
› Swiss Foreign Ministry

The foreign ministry told the Swiss news agency that “the self-immolations as such and the desperation they express are very worrying”. The spokesman added that Switzerland regularly raised human rights issues, and particularly that of Tibet, with China.

View full article »

France

January 25, 2012
› Press Briefing: China / Human Rights (Translated by ICT)

In the wake of serious incidents that occurred in Sichuan Monday, France expresses its deep concern at recent events in Tibetan areas of China.


France, like its partners in the European Union reiterates its commitment to respect human rights, freedom of religion and belief and the preservation of Tibetan culture and traditions. It believes that dialogue is the only way to achieve a lasting solution, respecting fully the Tibetan cultural and spiritual identity, as part of the People’s Republic of China.


These messages are regularly repeated to the Chinese authorities in the ranks of our political contacts and at the EU-China dialogue on human rights.

View full statement (in French) »


January 12, 2012
› French Minister of Foreign Affairs answers question relating to Tibet immolations
› Answer by French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé to the Question 19985 tabled by Senator Mme Christiane Demontès on the situation on Tibet (Original in French, translated by ICT)

France is worried about the situation in Tibet and the escalation of tensions which have been observed since few months, in particular in the area of the Kirti monastery, China’s Sichuan province, where violent incidents took place. France deplores the death by immolation of young Tibetan monks. The extreme character of their gesture reflects the desperation of their situation. France is deeply concerned about the rapid increase in the number of immolations since the end of September 2011. In concert with its European partners, France has expressed its concern to the Chinese authorities and has urged them to lift restrictions on access to the area of the monastery imposed on foreigners, including diplomats. France, and the EU, calls upon both parties to dialogue and is convinced that dialogue is the only way to reach a durable solution, which fully respects the cultural and spiritual identity of Tibetans, within the framework of the People’s Republic of China.

Italy

February 8, 2012
› Tibet Resolution adopted in the Italian Parliament 8th February

Dear Friends,
The Italian Chamber of Deputies adopted [February 8, 2012] unanimously in the Foreign Affairs Commission the "Tibet Resolution" calling the People

Republic of China to:
– stop immediately violence in Tibet and in all other Tibetan areas
– resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama
– open Tibet to international media

The Tibet Resolution call as well, the Italian Government to promote a monitoring initiative on human rights violations in Tibet at the United Nations competent bodies.

The Tibet Resolution call the Italian Government to involve in this initiative the European Union Partners starting at the next EU-China Summit that will be held in Beijing next 14th February.

The resolution was presented by Gianni Vernetti (Third Pole) and subscribed by Valter Veltroni, Arturo Parisi, Franco Tempestini (Democratic Party); Margherita Boniver, Enrico Pianetta, Fiamma Nirenstein (People of Freedom), Franco Allasia (Northern League); Matteo Mecacci (Radical Party). The full text of the resolution will follow soon.

With my best regards,
Gianni Vernetti

Czech Republic

February 29, 2012
› Statement by Deputy-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg
› U.N. Human Rights Council

With serious unease, we follow the continued escalation of tensions in Tibetan areas of China as evidenced by a spate of self-immolations. Last year, 22 Tibetans decided to act in such a tragic way in order to wake up the establishment and attract our attention.

View statement on UNmultimedia.org »

Luxembourg

March 7, 2012
› Communiqué posted on the FA Ministry website (English Translation by ICT)
› Foreign Affairs Ministry
› Meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, and ‘Friends of Tibet’ of Luxembourg

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, had an exchange of views with representatives of the non-governmental organization ‘Friends of Tibet Luxembourg’ about the situation in Tibet.

Jean Asselborn shares the concerns of "Friends of Tibet" following the recrudescence of immolations by fire of Tibetans since one year. The Minister was worried by the major despair which is at the origin of these extreme acts. Jean Asselborn used this opportunity to recall the attachment of Luxembourg to the safeguard of human rights, including freedom of religion, and to the protection of Tibetan culture, within the framework of the territorial integrity of People’s Republic of China. He also stressed that these messages are transmitted to Chinese Authorities within the framework of political contacts as well as in the Framework of the UE-China Human Rights dialogue. Luxembourg estimates that the dialogue is the only way which will lead to a durable and stable solution in full respect of the Tibetan cultural identity, within the framework of People’s Republic of China.

View on Government.lu »

European Union

December 14, 2012
› Source: Council of the European Union
› Subject: Declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union on Tibetan self-immolations

The EU is profoundly saddened by the increasing number of Tibetans committing selfimmolation, many of them young people.
 
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. 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 fully supports the statement made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay on 2 November 2012. The EU calls 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.
 
We also urge Chinese authorities to allow free access to all Tibetan autonomous areas for diplomats as well as for international journalists.
 
Recognising their intense sense of despair, the EU calls on Tibetans to refrain from resorting to extreme forms of protest, such as self-immolation, and on their community and religious leaders to use their influence to help stop this tragic loss of life.
 
Finally, the EU encourages all concerned parties to resume a meaningful dialogue.

View as PDF »


 November 13, 2012
› European Parliament Register
› Answer to written question on VP/HR – Violation of human rights in China: the case of Yonten Gyatso
› Question for written answer E-008218/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Lorenzo Fontana (EFD)

Subject: VP/HR – Violation of human rights in China: the case of Yonten Gyatso

The Intermediate People’s Court in the Tibetan prefecture of Ngaba (Sichuan) has sentenced a 37-year old monk, Yonten Gyatso, to seven years imprisonment, for having circulated photos of the self-immolation of the nun Tenzin Wagmo. The judges also declared him guilty of circulating information abroad about political events and attempting to contact staff at human rights bodies in the UN by phone.

Is the Vice-President / High Representative aware of this case?

Will the Vice-President / High Representative consider taking action concerning Yonten Gyatso, as the charges against him do not seem to justify the type of prison sentence he has received?

EN E-008218/2012 Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton

The High Representative/Vice President would like to thank the Honourable MEP for his question and for raising the case of Yonten Gyatso. Although the European Union is seriously concerned about the deteriorating situation in Tibet and is monitoring events very closely, it was not aware of this particular case. Once verified, we intend that it be added to the next list of individual cases handed over to the Chinese authorities in the course of 2013.


July 26, 2012
› European Parliament Register
› Answer to a written question on VP/HR – The crisis in Tibet
› Question for written answer E-004165/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Oreste Rossi (EFD)

Subject: VP/HR – The crisis in Tibet

The 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council revealed the deep concern felt by all European countries and the United States with regard to the situation in Tibet. In March 2012, their governments condemned the harsh repression inflicted by China on the people of Tibet. Government statements point to a gross violation of human rights in China. Since 2009, no less than 33 Tibetans have protested by resorting to self-immolation, with 20 incidents from the start of 2012 alone; 23 people have died from their burns. Most of the protesters were monks or former monks from the Ngaba Kirti Monastery. The reason for these protests is clear: they want freedom to practise their culture and religion without constraint, as well as the return of the Dalai Lama, the iconic figure who represents them.

In order to guarantee fundamental rights for Tibetans, the Chinese Government must reconsider its policy of oppression and intimidation that it is inflicting on this ethnic group and must turn the negative perception that it currently has of Tibetan Buddhists as an obstacle to single-party rule into an opportunity for China.

Ban Ki-moon himself reacted to the hunger strike by an activist in front of the UN headquarters in New York.

Since Tibetan protests are able to shock public opinion and shine a constant spotlight on human rights violations in China, how does the Vice-President/High Representative view the conclusions of the Human Rights Council held last March, does she intend to help stop the increasing number of Tibetan self-immolations, and, if so, how?

E-004165/2012 Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton

The High Representative/Vice President attaches great importance to the situation in Tibet. She follows closely the developments in Tibetan-populated areas, where an increasing number of self-immolations have occurred and where serious clashes between the police and the local population took place over the last few months.
The EU has taken the opportunity of high-level political meetings with its Chinese counterparts as well as several demarches to express its anxiety regarding the situation in Tibet and to raise individual cases of concern. On these occasions, the EU has repeatedly urged the Chinese authorities to refrain from the use of force against demonstrations, to allow the Tibetan people to exercise their religious, linguistic and cultural rights without restriction and to address the root causes of the tragic series of self-immolations, and in particular the lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region. The EU has also asked to be allowed to visit the regions inhabited by Tibetans in an unrestricted way but this request has been denied so far. At the EU-China Summit on 14 February 2012, President Van Rompuy called on China to deal with grievances in the country, including in Tibet, in a restrained and balanced manner. The EU also expressed its concerns about Tibet at the last round of the Human Rights Council in early March and at the last session of the EU-China Human Rights dialogue which took place on 29 May 2012.

The EU will continue to engage China on these issues. Following the last meeting between the Chinese authorities and the Envoys of the Dalai Lama in early 2010, we strongly support the restart of the dialogue between all parties in order to contribute to a durable solution.


May 22, 2012
› European Parliament register
› Answer to written question on VP/HR – Suicide of a Tibetan nun
› Question for written answer E-001786/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Sergio Paolo Frances Silvestris (PPE)

Subject: VP/HR – Suicide of a Tibetan nun

A young 18-year-old nun set herself alight in China in protest against repression and to ask the Beijing Government for freedom for Tibet. The young woman’s suicide is not an isolated gesture.

In recent weeks, 12 Tibetan monks have sacrificed themselves by fire. Suicide cases have, in fact, increased considerably since the release of a shocking video, filmed illegally and uploaded to the Internet by an NGO, which has amplified the phenomenon of self-immolation of Tibetan Buddhist nuns and monks who are protesting against Chinese repression in Tibet.

In light of these facts:
1. Is the High Representative aware of this case, yet another suicide of a young Tibetan nun protesting against the Chinese Government?
2. What action will she take to prevent other cases like this happening in Tibet and guarantee freedom of expression in China?

E-001786/2012 Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton

The High Representative/Vice President attaches great importance to the situation in Tibet. She follows closely the developments in Tibetan-populated areas, especially in Sichuan province, where an increasing number of self-immolations have occurred and where serious clashes between the police and the local population took place over the last few months. She has received information about the death of a young 18-year-old nun after she set herself on fire on 17 February 2012.

On 9 December 2011, the EU Delegation to China made a demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing its profound concern at the recent series of self-immolations which demonstrate the feeling among many Tibetans that their rights are not being respected. The EU urged the Chinese authorities to address the root causes of the self-immolations, and in particular the perceived lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region.

The EU also expressed its concerns regarding the situation in Tibet during the visit of Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department to Brussels, on 12 December 2011.

EU’s deep concerns as to the human rights situation in Tibet were raised as well at the EU-China summit which took place on 14 February 2012 in Beijing. While adhering to the ‘One-China policy’, the EU will continue to call for full respect for human rights, including the freedom of expression, religion, culture, association and assembly in these areas as in other parts of China.

Moreover, the EU repeatedly urges the Chinese authorities to resume their dialogue with the Envoys of the Dalai Lama. It has also asked to visit the regions inhabited by Tibetans but this request has been refused until now.


May 22, 2012
› Answer to written question on VP/HR – Tibet: young monk sets himself on fire
› Question for written answer E-001930/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Mario Mauro (PPE)

Subject: VP/HR – Tibet: young monk sets himself on fire

On 13 February 2012, a young monk of just 19 years of age set himself on fire in the Chinese province of Sichuan in an escalation of protests against the suppression being perpetrated by Beijing.

It is the second extreme act by a young Tibetan in two days, which brings the number of victims since February 2009 to 24 – although there is no official confirmation of the death.

Can the Commission state:
1. Whether the VP/HR is aware of this event;
2. What action does the VP/HR intend to take to address the violence against Tibetans taking place in the country?

E-001930/2012 Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton

The High Representative/Vice President is deeply concerned at the distressing events in the Tibetan areas. On 9 December 2011, the EU Delegation to China made a demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing its profound concern at the recent series of self-immolations which demonstrate the continuing depth of feeling among many Tibetans that their religious, linguistic and cultural rights are not being respected. The demarche underlined that the EU is concerned with the situation at Kirti monastery, in particular with reports that only a few hundred monks remain at the monastery and that the majority have either been sent home or are in detention. The EU urged the Chinese authorities to address the root causes of the self-immolations, and in particular the perceived lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region.

The EU also expressed its concerns regarding the situation in Tibet during the visit of Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department to Brussels, on 12 December 2011.

EU’s deep concerns as to the human rights situation in Tibet were raised as well at the EU-China summit which took place on 14 February 2012 inBeijing. While adhering to the ‘One-China policy’, the EU will continue to call for full respect for human rights, including the freedom of expression, religion, culture, association and assembly in these areas as in other parts of China.

Moreover, the EU repeatedly urges the Chinese authorities to resume their dialogue with the Envoys of the Dalai Lama. It has also asked to visit the regions inhabited by Tibetans but this request has been refused until now.


May 9, 2012
› European Parliament register
› Written question on VP/HR – The imprisonment of Tibetan monks
› Question for written answer E-011433/2011 to the Commission Rule 117 Fiorello Provera (EFD)

Subject: VP/HR – The imprisonment of Tibetan monks

In November 2011, the International Campaign for Tibet reported that Losang Tenzin and Nak Ten, both Kirti monks, had both been sentenced by the Barkham County People’s Court to between 10 and 13 years’ imprisonment, while another monk, Losang Tsondru, had been given a prison sentence of 11 years.

The arrests were announced on Chinese state media, with the Xinhua news service reporting that the monks had ‘plotted, instigated and assisted in the self-immolation of fellow monk Rigzin Phuntsog [the monk who had self-immolated in March 2011], causing his death’.

The International Campaign for Tibet believes that the sentence is purely political and claims that there is no evidence that the three monks had any involvement in Phuntsog’s death. Tibet has been witness to a wave of self-immolations; at least 11 monks have committed the act since March. Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has blamed hard-line Chinese policies, which he describes as ‘cultural genocide’, as a reason for the increase. On November 20, a young monk who had escaped from western China told the UK’s Independent on Sunday newspaper: ‘There are no rights of speech or movement. Outside, there are different ways to demonstrate but in Tibet this is the only option, the only choice, for protesting against the Chinese government.’

On October 31, the European Parliament adopted a resolution addressing the growing number of monks and nuns committing self-immolation as a result of Chinese policies.

1. Is the High Representative/Vice-President prepared to ask the Chinese authorities to reduce or overturn the prison sentences handed down to the three Tibetan monks mentioned above? Is the HR/VP aware of their situation?

2. What steps is the EU taking in China to monitor the well-being and safety of Tibetan monks and nuns who have been imprisoned or detained for exercising their religious and cultural rights?

3. Is the HR/VP prepared to work with her Beijing-based colleagues to formulate a clear EU statement condemning Chinese government policies which threaten the Tibetans’ culture, religion and language?

E-011433/2011 Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton

1. The High Representative/Vice President Ashton is aware of the sentences of imprisonment referred to by the Honourable Member. On 9 December 2011, the EU Delegation to China made a demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing its profound concern at the recent series of self-immolations in the Tibetan areas. In particular, the demarche expressed concern that several monks at Kirti had recently received long prison sentences concerning their alleged involvement with the self-immolation of the monk Rizgin Phuntsog in March 2011. The demarche called for the release of all monks at Kirti monastery who had been detained. The EEAS also expressed its concerns regarding the situation in Tibet during the visit of Mr Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department, to Brussels on 12 December 2011.

2. The demarche delivered on 9 December also expressed the EU’s concern that the majority of monks at Kirti had either been sent home or were in detention and drew attention to the statement of 8 June of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances calling on the Chinese authorities to provide full information on the fate and whereabouts of the persons who had disappeared from Kirti. The EU asked that the Chinese authorities should facilitate a visit by EU representatives to Kirti monastery. The Chinese authorities have replied that such a visit will not be allowed. More generally, the EU has repeatedly asked for permission to visit prisoners incarcerated in Chinese prisons; China has consistently refused to grant permission for such visits. The EU will include the names of the monks and nuns detained on the list of individual cases at the next round of the EU-China human rights dialogue.

3. The position of the EU on these issues is therefore very clear and well known to the Chinese authorities. At the present time, the High Representative does not intend to release a public statement regarding lack of respect for human rights in Tibet.


May 8, 2012
› European Parliament register
› Written question on VP/HR – The crisis in Tibet
› Question for written answer E-004165/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Oreste Rossi (EFD)

Subject: VP/HR – The crisis in Tibet

Please note the question will be answered within 6 weeks

The 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council revealed the deep concern felt by all European countries and the United States with regard to the situation in Tibet. In March 2012, their governments condemned the harsh repression inflicted by China on the people of Tibet. Government statements point to a gross violation of human rights in China. Since 2009, no less than 33 Tibetans have protested by resorting to self-immolation, with 20 incidents from the start of 2012 alone; 23 people have died from their burns. Most of the protesters were monks or former monks from the Ngaba Kirti Monastery. The reason for these protests is clear: they want freedom to practise their culture and religion without constraint, as well as the return of the Dalai Lama, the iconic figure who represents them.

In order to guarantee fundamental rights for Tibetans, the Chinese Government must reconsider its policy of oppression and intimidation that it is inflicting on this ethnic group and must turn the negative perception that it currently has of Tibetan Buddhists as an obstacle to single-party rule into an opportunity for China.

Ban Ki-moon himself reacted to the hunger strike by an activist in front of the UN headquarters in New York.

Since Tibetan protests are able to shock public opinion and shine a constant spotlight on human rights violations in China, how does the Vice-President/High Representative view the conclusions of the Human Rights Council held last March, does she intend to help stop the increasing number of Tibetan self-immolations, and, if so, how?


March 30, 2012
› EU Human Rights Strategy must include a Special Representative for Tibet
› Press release of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe of the European Parliament

The EU should prove its dedication to the policy of peaceful dialogue and support for human rights and democracy with a strong and consistent EU strategy for human rights. This was the overriding message of a report voted in Plenary in Strasbourg today by ALDE MEP Leonidas Donskis (Liberal Movement, Lithuania). The Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2011 calls for “the EU to ensure high, uncompromised human rights standards in its relations with other countries,” especially with big partners such as Russia and China, where human rights are often trivialised and marginalised in the context of economic and other considerations.

Donskis said “Fundamental human rights clauses must be included in international, EU and third party trade agreements since there are concerns that these agreements have incomplete, unbalanced, inadequate mechanisms for monitoring human rights. The EU has a responsibility towards the defenders and dissidents throughout the whole world since they are our essential partners rather than countries and institutions who show disregard for democracy and human rights”

Mr Donskis wanted this year’s Annual Report to be sharp, focused, strategic and useful in shaping EU policy on human rights in the world and not just a mere reflection of important developments of the past year.

He concluded “I believe that each Annual human rights report should set ambitious, yet achievable goals, which the Parliament should push for. This year I want to focus on Tibet – a country which merely seeks to preserve its religious, cultural and historical identity, yet suffers from systemic human rights violations by China. Given the dramatic situation there, the European Union should set up an office of a Special EU Representative on Tibet to monitor the situation more closely.”

The European Parliament Report on human rights and democracy in the world 2011 is available at »


February 29, 2012
› European parliament register
› Written question on VP/HR – Tibet: young monk sets himself on fire
› Question for written answer E-001930/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative) Rule 117 Mario Mauro (PPE)

 Subject: VP/HR – Tibet: young monk sets himself on fire

On 13 February 2012, a young monk of just 19 years of age set himself on fire in the Chinese province of Sichuan in an escalation of protests against the suppression being perpetrated by Beijing.

It is the second extreme act by a young Tibetan in two days, which brings the number of victims since February 2009 to 24 – although there is no official confirmation of the death.
 
 Can the Commission state:
1. Whether the VP/HR is aware of this event;
2. What action does the VP/HR intend to take to address the violence against Tibetans taking place in the country?


February 1, 2012
› European Parliament register
› Written question on VP/HR – Tibet: violations of the Tibetan people’s human rights and freedom of expression by the Chinese authorities
› Question for written answer E-000786/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative) Rule 117

Subject: VP/HR – Tibet: violations of the Tibetan people’s human rights and freedom of expression by the Chinese authorities

In the last six months alone, no fewer than 15 Tibetan Buddhists, most of whom were monks, have set themselves on fire in public, suffering terrible injury or even dying in the process, to make world public opinion aware of China’s aggressive policy towards Tibet and the dramatic situation there.

In the most recent incident, a 40-year-old monk who ran an orphanage in Darlang set himself on fire after pouring kerosene over his body. However, faced with such acts of desperation, the Chinese authorities have responded by imposing police restrictions and tightening controls, while suicide and attempted suicide have been defined by the Chinese authorities as acts of terrorism instigated by the Dalai Lama. In addition to a police crack-down, the Chinese authorities have stepped up mandatory ‘patriotic re-education’ programmes for monks, i.e. coercive indoctrination of Chinese history in order to eradicate Tibetan cultural and religious identity.

Accordingly, will the Vice-President/High Representative say:

1. how she intends to tackle the long-standing issue of repeated violations of human rights in Tibet;
2. what action can be taken on behalf of the Tibetan people to protect its freedom of expression?
3. what action can be taken to ensure that China complies with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

4. what the state of EU‑China-Tibet relations is?
5. whether there are EU programmes in support of the Tibetan people?

View online »

Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on behalf of the Commission [E-000786/2012]

› May 7, 2012

1. — 2. The HR/VP is concerned about the recent distressing cases of self-immolation of some thirty Tibetans, as well as reports of increasingly violent measures used to suppress protests in the Tibetan regions and the apparent tightening of government control over monasteries. The EU Delegation to China has made two demarches to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing the EU’s concern at the self-immolations. The EU also raised its concerns regarding the human rights situation in Tibet at the EU‑China Summit on 14 February 2012 and in a statement at the last round of the Human Rights Council on 6 March 2012. The EU has asked to visit the regions inhabited by Tibetans but this request has been refused.

3. In these contacts, the EU urged China to comply with its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular, the EU urged the Chinese authorities to refrain from the use of force, to allow the Tibetan people to exercise their religious, linguistic and cultural rights and to address the root causes of the self-immolations, in particular the perceived lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region.

4. While the EU does not question that Tibet is an integral part of China, at the same time it is greatly concerned about the current situation. The EU’s concerns have been clearly conveyed to the Chinese authorities in the contacts listed above.

5. It is open to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in Tibet to submit applications for financial support from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The HR/VP assures all applicants that their applications will be handled in the strictest confidence and accordingly cannot provide any information concerning EIDHR* projects.
———–
*EIDHR = European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.


January 18, 2012
› Oral answer by Danish Foreign Minister Mr. Villy Søvndal to formal question by Representative Peter Skaarup (Danish People’s Party) during the parliamentary debate (Excerpts translated by ICT)

Peter Skaarup (Danish People’s Party): Question: Will the Minister, just as the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has done, raise the issue with the Chinese government that several monks in Tibet have set fire to themselves in protest against Chinese repression of the Tibetan population, and will the Foreign Minister ensure that Denmark in the future marks its rejection of the oppression of Tibetans?

The Foreign Minister (Villy Søvndal): I fully share the concern about the self-immolations of Tibetan monks since March 2011. According to the International Campaign, 16 monks have burned ​​themselves, with 11 deaths as a consequence. Self-immolation is indeed an extreme and also an extremely desperate step that should make us all reflect. The Dalai Lama has in connection with a previous isolated case of self-immolation dissociated himself from it, and he describes it as a practice deviating from a Buddhist view of life. I think this is important to add. From the Danish side we have several times, both bilaterally and through the EU, expressed our concern to the Chinese authorities over the actions by the Chinese authorities against the Tibetan monks in Sichuan province, where Kirti monastery is located and where the majority of the self-immolations have occurred.

On 9 October 2011 I met with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, and here I expressed myself clearly about the lack of possibilities for Tibetans to exercise their religion, their culture and their language, because from the Danish point of view this is something that is absolutely essential to be allowed to do. On Danish initiative, among others, the EU in the spring of 2011 contacted China on a high level, where the violent Chinese behavior was criticised and concern for the development was expressed. The question of the situation in the area of the Kirti monastery and the self-immolations was also on the agenda of the EU-China human rights dialogue in June 2011.

In early December, the EU again made a demarche to the Chinese authorities that Norway also joined. In the demarche, the EU expressed concern over self-immolations, that were precisely seen as an expression of the regime’s lack of respect for Tibetans’ religious, linguistic and cultural rights, and we intend to continue to do so.

[…] I am completely sure that the Chinese authorities do not even for a second doubt what Denmark or the EU think. I am completely sure that they know that we are very concerned about the self-immolations and not least about the situation of the Tibetans in general and this is precisely because we have raised the issue during our meetings with them and generally have criticised the conditions that the Tibetans face and their lack of opportunities for expressing themselves religiously, culturally and linguistically. I believe that it is crucial to continue to address these issues with the Chinese when we meet and to leave our mark, participate in influencing and participate in adding pressure. Fortunately we are in a situation where we are not alone in doing this – where the EU also participates, and here it is clear that a message carries much greater weight when it is not just a country like Denmark that repeats these points of views but also the EU. So we will continue to work with this.


November 25, 2011
› Letter from HR/VP – Lady Catherine Ashton in response to October 18 message from MEP Laszlo Tokes, Vice-President of the European Parliament and MEP Barbara Lochbihler, Chair, Subcommittee on Human Rights

[Excerpt]

I fully share your concerns over these shocking events. It has been clear for some time that measures implemented by the Chinese authorities appear seriously to undermine the religious and linguistic and cultural rights of the Tibetan minority. The EU raised the issue at the last EU-China human rights dialogue on 16 June. It expressed its concerns on a number of issues, including the increasing legal restrictions on religious practice in Tibet, the limitations on the teaching of the Tibetan language, the ongoing official campaign against Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures, and the impact on Tibetan culture of the forced resettlement of nomads.

The EU also raised the situation at Kirti monastery, in particular the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang. It called on the Chinese authorities to allow all Tibetans, including monks, to exercise their cultural and religious rights without hindrance, and to refrain from the use of force against peaceful protest. The Chinese reply dismissed the EU’s concerns, and emphasized that Chinese policies in Tibet had led to significant economic development. China claimed that the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang represented an “organised plot” by the monks, for which the perpetrators had been sent for “legal awareness” education.

Since then, several more Tibetan monks have set fire to themselves. The fact that so many Tibetan monks have chosen to take such tragic steps demonstrates the profound and continuing depth of feeling among many Tibetans that their rights are not being respected. On my behalf, Commissioner Kroes underlined our concerns on this issue in the emergency Parliamentary debate of 27 October.

The EU remains fully engaged on this issue. It urges the Chinese authorities to refrain from implementing policies which undermine the religious, linguistic and cultural rights of the Tibetan minority. It urges them to address the root causes of the self-immolations – in particular the lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy in the region – and to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the representatives of the Tibetan minority.


November 24, 2011
› Written question on self-immolation by young Tibetan monks

Question for written answer E-010915/2011 to the Commission Rule 117 Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), Edward McMillan-Scott (ALDE), Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE) and Thomas Mann (PPE)

Subject: Written question on VP/HR – Complementary written question to the High Representative Lady Ashton regarding written answer P-009291/2011 about self-immolation by young Tibetan monks

While thanking the High Representative Lady Ashton for answering P-009291/2011 about self-immolation by young Tibetan monks, we still have few doubts in this regard. We would like to seek her help to answer fully those questions and address our concerns in order to have a comprehensive picture of the EU’s position towards the current situation in China’s Tibetan areas.

In particular:
Question 2: Has this use of self-immolation been discussed at the level of the COHOM and COASI?
Question 3: Has a position been taken or a reaction been given by the Commission and the European External Action Service?
Question 4: Is it the Vice-President/High Representative’s intention to release a public statement of concern over the lack of respect for human rights in Tibet, which is leading to these extreme acts and desperate forms of protest?
Question 5: Will the EU raise this issue with China during the next EU-China summit and EU-China human rights dialogue?

With regard to Question 3, the fact that Lady Ashton ‘took the opportunity to repeat the EU’s consistent position on human rights’ in her two days of talks in Beijing with the Chinese leadership on 24 and 25 October 2011 does not explain whether a common position was taken by the Commission and the European External Action Service on the self-immolation by Tibetan monks and nuns, nor did she reflect on and inform us of possible actions by the EU mission on the ground.

Regarding Question 4, the High Representative did not say whether she intends to release a public statement of concern over the lack of respect for human rights in Tibet.

Finally, while it was reiterated that the EU discussed the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang and the punishment of other monks at Kirti monastery at the last EU-China human rights dialogue on 16 June 2011, it is not clear whether the European Union intends to raise this issue during the next EU-China Summit, thereby duly taking into account the 27 October 2011 EP resolution on this important issue.


November 9, 2011
› Written question on EU-China Relations

Question for written answer E-009951/2011 to the Commission Rule 117 Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE)
Subject: EU-China relations – Tibet

Is the Commission urging China to deal with the current problem of Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire in protest at Chinese rule in Tibet, as a condition of further strengthening the EU-China trade relations?


November 7, 2011
› Answer to written question on human rights in Tibet tabled by MEP Ramon Tremosa I Balcells (ALDE)

QUESTION: There is a deepening climate of fear in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province, as a result of the self-immolation of 5 young monks since March 2011. On 16 March 2011, 20-year-old Kirti monk Phuntsog died after setting fire to himself, leading to the current crackdown in the area. On 26 September, Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Kunchok, both believed to be around 18 years old, set fire to themselves while shouting ‘Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama’, in a protest also held in Ngaba county town. On 3 October, 17-year-old monk Kelsang Wangchuk immolated himself in Ngaba county town. He was carrying a photograph of the Dalai Lama and shouting slogans against the Chinese government when he set fire to himself in the main street. He is the third monk from Kirti monastery to set fire to himself in the past week. Likewise, in nearby Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, a 29-year-old monk named Tsewang Norbu died on 15 August after drinking petrol and setting fire to himself whilst calling for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

  1. Is the Vice-President/High Representative aware of this situation?
  2. Has this use of self-immolation been discussed at the level of the COHOM and COASI?
  3. Has a position been taken or a reaction been given by the Commission and the European External Action Service?
  4. Is it the Vice-President/High Representative’s intention to release a public statement of concern over the lack of respect for human rights in Tibet, which is leading to these extreme acts and desperate forms of protest?
  5. Will the EU raise this issue with China during the next EU-China summit and EU-China human rights dialogue?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: The EU is fully aware and deeply concerned at the distressing events in the Tibetan areas. The EU raised the issue of rights of persons belonging to minorities – and in particular the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang and the punishment of other monks at Kirti monastery – at the last EU-China human rights dialogue on 16 June 2011. Since then, several more Tibetan monks have set fire to themselves. The fact that a growing number of Tibetan monks are choosing to take such tragic steps clearly demonstrates the profound and continuing depth of feeling among many Tibetans that their religious, linguistic and cultural rights are not being respected.

In her two days talks in Beijing with the Chinese leadership on 24 and 25 October 2011, High Representative Ashton took the opportunity to repeat the EU’s consistent position on human rights.


October 27, 2011
› Statement by MEP Thomas Mann, Chairman of the European Parliamnent’s cross-party Intergroup on Tibet

"The situation in the Kirti monastery is alarming. Nine monks and one nun have seen no other way in their desperation but to resort to self-immolation. They wanted to make sure that we look at what is happening."

"According to eye witnesses, Chinese security forces have surrounded Kirti monastery and prevented the delivery of water and food. Monks were taken away for a ‘patriotic re-education.’ We need to know what is happening and where these monks are, who have been taken to unknown locations. The dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama must begin anew. Tibet must become the top priority on all EU-China summits!"


October 27, 2011
› European Parliament resolution on Tibet, in particular self-immolation by nuns and monks

The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on China and Tibet, in particular its resolution of 5 November 2010(1)
– having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of religious belief,
A. whereas respect for human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of association are founding principles of the EU and a priority of its foreign policy;
B. whereas the Chinese Government has imposed drastic restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Aba/Ngaba county prefecture in Sichuan province, and in other parts of the Tibetan plateau, including brutal security raids, arbitrary detention of monks, increased surveillance within monasteries and a permanent police presence inside the monasteries in order to monitor religious activities;
C. whereas these security measures are designed to curtail the right to free expression, freedom of association and freedom of religious belief in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries;
D. whereas Phuntsog (aged 20) and Tsewang Norbu (aged 29) died after setting fire to themselves, on 16 March and 15 August 2011 respectively, as a protest against restrictive Chinese policies in Tibet;
E. whereas Phuntsog’s younger brothers, Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Kunchok (both aged 18), set fire to themselves at the Aba/Ngaba county market on 26 September 2011, and whereas, although they survived, their present condition remains unclear;
F. whereas Dawa Tsering, a 38-year-old monk at Kardze Monastery, set fire to himself on 25 October 2011, whereas Chinese security personnel doused the flames and tried to take him away, whereas the monk is currently being protected by fellow monks at the monastery and whereas his condition is critical;
G. whereas Kelsang Wangchuk, a 17-year-old monk at Kirti Monastery, immolated himself on 3 October 2011 and was immediately carried away by Chinese soldiers, who extinguished the fire and beat him strenuously before taking him away, and whereas his current state of well-being and whereabouts are unknown;
H. whereas two former monks from Kirti, Choephel (aged 19) and Kayang (aged 18), clasped their hands together and set fire to themselves while calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and the right to religious freedom, and whereas they died following this protest;
I. whereas former Kirti monk Norbu Damdrul (aged 19), who set fire to himself on 15 October 2011, was the eighth Tibetan to self-immolate, and whereas his current whereabouts and state of well-being are unknown;
J. whereas on 17 October 2011 a nun from Ngaba Mamae Dechen Choekorling Nunnery, Tenzin Wangmo (aged 20), died, and whereas she was the first female to commit self-immolation;
K. whereas self-immolation can be seen as a form of protest and an expression of the increasing desperation felt by young Tibetans, especially within the community of Kirti Monastery;
L. whereas, whatever personal motivations may underlie these acts, they must be considered in the wider context of religious and political repression in Aba/Ngaba county, which can be traced back many years;
M. whereas the tightening of state control over religious practice via a series of regulations passed by the Chinese Government in 2007 has contributed to the desperation of Tibetans across the Tibetan plateau;
N. whereas current regulations have dramatically expanded state control over religious life, with many expressions of religious identity being subject to state approval and control, including the recognition of reincarnate lamas;
O. whereas a Chinese court sentenced three Tibetan monks to imprisonment over the death of their fellow monk Phuntsog, who set himself on fire on 16 March 2011, on the grounds that they had hidden him and deprived him of medical attention, and whereas it accused them of ‘intentional homicide’;
P. whereas in March 2011, following the first immolation incident, armed personnel surrounded Kirti Monastery and cut off its access to food and water for several days;
whereas the new security officials dispatched to the monastery imposed a compulsory new ‘patriotic education’ programme, and whereas more than 300 monks were taken away in military trucks and detained at unspecified locations to undergo several weeks of political indoctrination;
Q. whereas the Chinese Government has accused the monks at Kirti Monastery of being involved in acts ‘aimed at disturbing social order’, including vandalism and self-immolation;
R. whereas in recent months the Chinese authorities have tightened security in Tibet, especially in the area surrounding Kirti Monastery, whereas journalists and foreigners are banned from visiting the region, and whereas the monastery is patrolled by police in full riot gear; whereas foreign media have been banned from entering restless parts of Tibet, whereas Chinese state television has failed to report on the protests, and whereas monks are forbidden from speaking out about the protests;

1. Condemns the Chinese authorities’ continued crackdown on Tibetan monasteries and calls on them to lift the restrictions and security measures imposed on monasteries and lay communities, and to restore the lines of communication to the monks of Kirti Monastery;
2. Is deeply concerned by reports, since last April, of eight Tibetan Buddhist monks and one nun self-immolating near the Ngaba Kirti Monastery in China’s Sichuan province;
3. Urges the Chinese Government to lift the restrictions and heavy-handed security measures imposed on the Kirti Monastery, and to provide information as to the whereabouts of monks forcibly taken from the monastery; urges the Chinese authorities to allow independent international media and human rights monitors to visit the area;
4. Calls on the Chinese Government to guarantee freedom of religion to all its citizens in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to abolish criminal and administrative penalties which target religion and have been used to punish citizens for exercising their right to freedom of religion;
5. Calls on the Chinese authorities to respect the rights of Tibetans in all Chinese provinces and to take proactive steps to resolve the underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population;
6. Calls on the Chinese authorities to cease promoting policies which threaten the Tibetan language, culture, religion, heritage and environment, in contravention of the Chinese Constitution and the Chinese law granting autonomy to ethnic minorities;
7. Urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China to provide full details as to the status of the 300 monks who were taken away from Kirti Monastery in April 2011, in relation to which several Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, including the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, have intervened;
8. Urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China to be accountable for the status of those Tibetans who have been ‘hospitalised’ after self-immolating, including as regards their access to medical treatment;
9. Condemns the sentencing of the Kirti monks and insists on their right to a fair trial and to the provision of adequate legal assistance for the length of that trial; calls for independent observers to be allowed access to the Kirti monks held in detention;
10. Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to release a public statement expressing the EU’s concern as regards the escalating situation in Aba/Ngaba county and urging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, along with restraint on the part of security police;
11. Calls on the Chinese authorities to refrain from implementing counterproductive policies and aggressive ‘patriotic education’ programmes in Tibetan-populated areas such as Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai, places where human rights violations have created tensions;
12. Calls on the Chinese authorities to respect traditional Tibetan death rites and to return remains in accordance with Buddhist rituals and without delay or hindrance;
13. Asks the EU and its Member States to call on the Chinese Government to resume its dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives with a view to bringing about genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China, and to stop its campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama as a religious leader;
14. Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the Commission to raise human rights issues at the next EU-China Summit, and calls on the President of the Commission and the President of the European Council clearly to uphold Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity in the course of their official speeches during the opening or closing of the summit, in the event that it is not on the agenda for discussion;
15. Calls on the EEAS and the EU delegation to China constantly to monitor the human rights situation in China and to continue to raise – in meetings and correspondence with Chinese officials – the specific cases of individual Tibetans imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of religious freedom, and to present a report to Parliament within the next 12 months, suggesting actions to be taken or policies to be implemented;
16. Reiterates its call to the Council to appoint an EU Special Representative for Tibet with a view to facilitating the resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama’s envoys in relation to the determination of genuine autonomous status for Tibet within the People’s Republic of China;
17. Calls on those Member States which are members of the G-20, and on the President of the Commission and the President of the European Council, to raise the human rights situation in Tibet with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao, at the upcoming G-20 Summit in Cannes on 3 and 4 November 2011;
18. Urges the People’s Republic of China to respect the religious freedoms and basic human rights of the monastic and lay communities in Ngaba, and to suspend the implementation of religious control regulations in order to allow Tibetan Buddhists to identify and educate religious teachers in a manner consistent with Tibetan traditions, to review the religious and security policies implemented in Ngaba since 2008, and to open a transparent dialogue with the leaders of Tibetan Buddhist schools;
19. Urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China to respect internationally agreed human rights standards and to abide by its obligations under international human rights conventions with respect to freedom of religion or belief;
20. Expresses the need for the rights of China’s minority communities to be put on the agenda for future rounds of the EU-China human rights dialogue;
21. Urges the Chinese Government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union / Vice-President of the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.


September 7, 2011
› Answer to written question on human rights in Tibet tabled by MEP Cristiana Muscardini (PPE)

QUESTION: In recent months, the mass deportation of Tibetan nomadic herders and peasants to Chinese ‘socialist villages’ has continued, depriving two million Tibetans of all means of subsistence in many areas of the country; moreover, the central authorities have launched a ‘patriotic re-education’ campaign with the aim of compelling monks at Tibetan monasteries to abjure their beliefs and repressing all forms of dissent by means of arrests and the systematic use of torture.

  1. Is the Commission aware of this situation?
  2. Is the Commission aware of the hunger strike to the point of death on which the ‘Tibetan Youth Congress’ has embarked in protest against the severe repression in Eastern Tibet?
  3. Is it not necessary to draw the attention of the People’s Republic of China to the issue of respect for the international conventions to which it is a party and thus to call for a halt to all forms of repression of peaceful demonstrations expressing the dissent of the Tibetan people?
  4. What measures will the Commission take to put a stop to the slaughter of Tibetan monks, particularly from Kirti monastery, hundreds of whose monks have been arrested?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE/VICE PRESIDENT ASHTON (On behalf of the Commission): The Commission is aware of the enforced mass resettlement of nomadic herdsmen in Tibet and of widespread campaigns of “patriotic education” concerning Tibetan monks. In view of concerns regarding the treatment of minorities in China, the EU proposed the rights of persons belonging to minorities as the main topic for discussion at the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue on 16 June 2011. At the dialogue, the EU raised the issues of resettlement of herdsmen, “patriotic education” and the incident at Kirti monastery, as well as more general concerns regarding restrictions on religious activities, restrictions on teaching in the Tibetan language and harassment of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures. The EU urged China to allow the Tibetan people fully to exercise their basic political, religious, economic, social and cultural rights in line with the Chinese Constitution, Chinese legal provisions on local autonomy and China’s international obligations. In response, the Chinese authorities indicated that their policies in Tibet had led to significant economic development and drew attention to the satisfaction of the local population with these policies. The Chinese authorities claimed that the disturbances at Kirti monastery were due to an "organised plot" carried out with extreme cruelty on the part of certain monks.


September 2, 2011
› Answer to written question on Clashes at Kirti and risk of a new massacre in Tibet tabled by MEP Mara Bizzotto (EFD)

QUESTION: In 2008 the Chinese army perpetrated an act of severe repression in Tibet, shooting into a crowd and leaving more than 200 dead. The monastery of Kirti, in Ngaba county, is now again under siege from the Chinese police, who, in an attempt to prevent any contact between monks and worshippers, have already resorted to force, attacking the former and unleashing their dogs on the latter.

Can the Commission state whether it is the EU’s intention to act in time to prevent the escalation of a conflictive situation which could spread out from Kirti and become explosive, leading to a bloodbath in the entire region?

What representations will the Commission make at diplomatic level vis-a-vis the Chinese government so that Europe sends out a clear signal to dissuade China from any act of repression against monks and worshippers in Tibet?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE/VICE PRESIDENT ASHTON (On behalf of the Commission): The European Union is alarmed at the reports of deaths, beatings and mass detentions of monks at the Kirti monastery. Although the European Union Delegation in Beijing has attempted to gather further facts concerning this incident, it has been unable to do so as it appears that the Chinese authorities have sealed off the monastery and all foreigners have been expelled from the area. The European Union Delegation will nevertheless continue to attempt to obtain more information about the situation at the monastery.

In the light of these reports, the European External Action Service (EEAS) summoned the Chinese Ambassador to the European Union on 6 May 2011 to receive a protest. The EEAS requested an explanation concerning the situation at the monastery and urged the Chinese authorities to allow access to the area to verify the credibility of reports. In reply, the Ambassador handed over a paper which accused the monks of engaging in activities which disrupt social order, such as beating, looting, arson and stockpiling weapons. The Ambassador did not provide any response to the reports that a blockade had been imposed on the monastery and that large numbers of monks had been detained.

Moreover, the last round of the EU-China human rights dialogue took place on 16 June 2011. The EU had proposed the theme of Rights of persons belonging to minorities as the main item for discussion, which allowed the EU to raise again the situation at Kirti, as well as respect for cultural and religious rights in Tibet in general.

United Nations

November 2, 2012
› United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
› China must urgently address deep-rooted frustrations with human rights in Tibetan areas

GENEVA (2 November 2012) – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday 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.

The UN human rights chief said she was disturbed by “continuing allegations of violence against Tibetans seeking to exercise their fundamental human rights of freedom of expression, association and religion,” and pointed to “reports of detentions and disappearances, of excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and curbs on the cultural rights of Tibetans.”

Cases have included a 17-year-old girl who was reportedly severely beaten and sentenced to three years in prison for distributing flyers calling for Tibet’s freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. Others have been sentenced to between four and seven years in prison for writing essays, making films or distributing photos of events in Tibet outside China. Serious concerns have been raised about fair trial standards, and the torture and ill-treatment of detainees.

“I have had several exchanges with the Chinese Government on these issues. But more needs to be done to protect human rights and prevent violations,” Pillay said. “I call on the Government to respect the rights to peaceful assembly and expression, and to release all individuals detained for merely exercising these universal rights.”

The High Commissioner also appealed to Tibetans to refrain from resorting to extreme forms of protest, such as self-immolation, and urged community and religious leaders to use their influence to help stop this tragic loss of life.

“I recognise Tibetans’ intense sense of frustration and despair which has led them to resort to such extreme means,” she said, “but there are other ways to make those feelings clear. The Government also needs to recognise this, and permit Tibetans to express their feelings without fear of retribution.”

The High Commissioner urged the Government, as a confidence-building measure, to allow independent and impartial monitors to visit and assess the actual conditions on the ground, and to lift restrictions on media access to the region. She noted that there are 12 outstanding requests for official visits to China by UN Special Rapporteurs on various human rights issues, including one by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief. During the Universal Periodic Review of China’s human rights record before the UN Human Rights Council, the State pledged to step up cooperation with Special Procedures. Pillay called on the Government to facilitate their access.

“Social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights,” she said. “Deep underlying issues need to be addressed, and I call on the Government to seriously consider the recommendations made to it by various international human rights bodies, as well as to avail itself of the expert advice being offered by the UN’s independent experts on human rights.”

Among the recommendations made by international human rights bodies to the Government of China on Tibet are the following:

– UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, recommended a suspension of non-voluntary resettlement of nomadic herders, who make up the majority of the Tibetan population, and called for a meaningful consultation.

– The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CERD) recommended to China that any policies or incentives offered that may result in a substantial alteration of the demographic composition of autonomous minority areas be reviewed. CERD also recommended that the State party carefully consider the root causes of the unrest in March 2008, including inter-ethnic violence, and the reasons why the situation escalated.

– The UN Committee Against Torture in November 2008 recommended that China conduct a thorough and independent inquiry into events surrounding the protests in March 2008, including the reported excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, notably monks, in Kardze county, Ngaba county, and Lhasa; and into allegations of torture and ill-treatment against those arrested and detained.

“My office also stands ready to assist constructively on these issues in the region and promoting best practices from around the world with regard to protection of minorities,” Pillay added.

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March 6, 2012
› Statement by Olivier De Schutter, U. N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
› U.N. Human Rights Council

 Since March 2011 we had 25 self immolated people who in Tibet burned themselves in protest against the policies that are implemented in this region. Just this past weekend two people self immolated themselves one was a mother of four another was a 20 year old student. Out of these 25 people, 18 were actually herders forcibly resettled into new socialist villages. This I have to say is not compatible with the idea that these would be and I quote ‘very popular policies.’ In fact the official news agency in China, the Xinhua news agency, issued data on this policy of forcible resettlement, demonstrating that this is very large scale development, 200,000 nomads in the Qinghai’s resettlement program alone. 64,000 families since 2009, and the plan is to move 50,000 Tibetan nomads to be resettled by the end of 2012 this year. The Xinhua news agency mentions and I quote ‘that most of the new migrants still miss their nomadic lives, yearning to listen to the yaks and tread the grasslands of their ancestral home.’ And they interview a nomadic herder who says that his family now lives on an annual government subsidy that is less than the price of two yaks. ‘Everything is so expensive here in town’ end of quote.

This is one of the main concerns in my report, and it is ironic, that I’m told I cannot comment on this because I can’t travel to Tibet, when we know that regularly the communication systems: Internet, the phones, SMS’s are blocked and Tibet is completely closed to independent observers, including the media. In fact a BBC journalist was threatened with expulsion if he reported on Tibet….

[The rest of his statement is interrupted by the delegate from Cuba, an ally of China on the Council, who attempts to claim that his focus on Tibet is outside of his mandate.]


November 1, 2011
› Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
› China: UN experts warn of severe restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries

GENEVA – A group of United Nations independent experts voiced grave concern over reports of heavy security measures, in and around the area of the Tibetan Buddhist Kirti monastery – which houses some 2,500 monks- and other monasteries in Aba County, an area of Sichuan province with many ethnic Tibetans in south-west China. “Intimidation of the lay and monastic community must be avoided, and the right of members of the monastic community, and the wider community to freely practice their religion, should be fully respected and guaranteed by the Chinese Government,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, noting that the recent deployment of security forces is reported to include officers in riot gear, soldiers with automatic rifles, and trucks and armed personnel on the streets leading to the monastery.

Further measures are reported to include security raids and surveillance within monasteries, with police presence inside and outside monasteries to monitor religious activities. “Such restrictive measures not only curtail the right to freedom of religion or belief, but further exacerbate the existing tensions, and are counterproductive,” Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt said.

His comments were echoed by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, who warned that “such measures seriously impede the exercise of the right to association of members of the monastic community.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, added his voice expressing his “deep concern about allegations of restrictions to Internet access and mobile messaging services within Aba Country, as well as journalists’ lack of access to the region.” In his view, “rather than taking such measures, the Government should instead listen to and address the legitimate grievances of the monastic community.”

The heavy security measures adopted have resulted in increased tensions between the Chinese authorities and members of the monastic community, in particular since March 2011, a period which has seen an escalation of protests by both lay persons and members of the monastic community, calling for religious freedom. The severe restrictions on freedoms of religion, expression and association, have led to hundreds of monks reportedly leaving the monastery, with many being arrested or subjected to enforced disappearance.

“Any enforced disappearance is unacceptable and such practices are in violation of international law,” said the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Mr. Jeremy Sarkin, expressing concern that a proposed revision to the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law will legalise enforced disappearances in the country. “This heinous practice is not permitted under any circumstances. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify an enforced disappearance.”

Another UN expert panel, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, expressed concern about the recurring practice of arbitrary arrests and detention of monks in the area of Sichuan province. “No individual can be arrested on the ground of peacefully exercising the rights and freedoms guaranteed under international human rights law,” stressed Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow, the Group’s Chair-Rapporteur.

The Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Rita Izsák, also called on the Chinese authorities to fully respect and uphold the rights of minorities including their rights to freely practice their religion and culture. “Allegations suggest that this is far from the case in this region and I urge the Government to cease any restrictive practices and refrain from any use of violence or intimidation.”

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