Tibetan campaign to stop self-immolations

Tibetan campaign to stop self-immolations

Tibetan campaign to stop self-immolations

Updated 30 January 2013, 18:14 AEDT

The Tibetan Government-in-exile says it will launch a campaign to bring pressure on China to end a string of self-immolations in Tibet.

Penpa Tsering, speaker of the exiled Tibetan parliament in India, says the four-day campaign will begin on Thursday, and will include rallies and meetings in New Delhi.

"The situation is getting more and more grim," Mr Tsering said at a joint news conference with Tibet's prime minister, Lobsang Sangay.

The two leaders say 99 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. Of that number, they say 83 have died.

Mr Sangay says India, home to tens of thousands of Tibetan exiles, "ought to speak out forcefully on Tibet".

"Instead of trying to address the main causes as to why self-immolations are taking place, as to why Tibetans are protesting in various other forms, the Chinese Government has resorted to a blame game," he said.

Mr Sangay says the campaign will call for visits to Tibet by UN fact-finding teams and the publication of details of human rights discussions between Beijing and foreign powers.

The Dalai Lama and Mr Sangay have appealed to Tibetans not to resort to self-immolation.

"We are against drastic action but we must highlight it (the situation in Tibet) to the international community," Mr Sangay said.

Lobsang Sangay took over political duties from revered Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and was named prime minister in 2011.

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

China rejects the claims, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. It also points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.\

AFP