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US 'concerned' over Tibet violence, calls for more rights

  • In this photo taken on November 30, 2012 ethnic Tibetans carry goods down a street in Chengdu in China's southwest Sichuan province. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS

WASHINGTON: The United States expressed concern over self-immolations in Tibet, and called on China to let residents "express their grievances freely" following a spike in violence in the Himalayan region.

Washington also urged Beijing to talk with the Dalai Lama "without preconditions" and to allow journalists, diplomats "and other observers unrestricted access to China's Tibetan areas."

The United States "is deeply concerned and saddened by the continuing violence" in Tibet, the State Department said late Wednesday.

Official Chinese rhetoric "that denigrates the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and those who have self-immolated has further exacerbated tensions," read the statement, signed by Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero.

More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009 to protest China's rule of the Tibetan plateau. The number of incidents sharply increased in November.

Top US officials "have directly raised the issue of Tibetan self-immolations with their Chinese government counterparts," Otero wrote.

Washington calls on Beijing "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."

Beijing regularly accuses the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, of inciting the burnings.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he fled an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of repressing their religious freedom and eroding their culture, as the country's majority Han Chinese ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.

 
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