By Irving Feng
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – The Chinese central government will continue to disallow foreign, independent investigations of possible human rights abuses in Chinese-ruled Tibet.
International pressure to allow these probes into Tibet have intensified in the wake of eight individuals setting themselves on fire in protest of China’s rule in Tibet. At least 68 Tibetans have committed self-immolation since March of 2011, and roughly 56 of these individuals have died.
Thousands of protestors, including many students, have also taken to the streets to protest the Chinese government and called for the return of the exiled Dalai Lama. The Tibetan demonstrators marched on the government offices of Rebkong in eastern Tibet after the recent incidents of Tibetans lighting themselves on fire.
The demonstrators not only called for the return of his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, but also greater freedom of speech. This may be a continuation of demonstrations held in 2010 when China planned to replace the Tibetan language with Chinese to instruct children in local schools.
Executive director of the rights group “Free Tibet” asserted that language is a huge issue among native Tibetans. If Tibetans choose to study their own language and ignore Chinese, they will be marginalized because they must study Chinese for higher education opportunities and future employment opportunities.
Navi Pillay, the most senior human rights official at the United Nations, pleaded with China last week to allow for independent investigations into these alleged human rights abuses that may be plaguing the Tibetan people.
China’s Communist Party, however, continues to assert that foreign journalists will not be welcomed into Tibet. Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet’s regional assembly, relayed that people are welcome to come and see Tibet for travel and study purposes, but those attempting to enter the region to highlight human rights abuses are not welcome.
Qiangba Puncog also told reporters that they were welcome to see the true situation of Tibet with their own eyes, but gave no specific timeline as to when foreign reporters would be allowed back into the region. China has barred foreign journalists from entering Tibet which makes independent verification of the specific events alleged, including the human rights abuses and nature of the self-immolations, difficult.
The individuals who have set themselves on fire have been labeled as terrorists by the Chinese government. The Chinese government further accuses the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, as the instigator for all of these acts of self-mutilation. The Dalia Lama denies all charges.
For further information, please see:
ZeeNews –Protests in Tibet amid key Cong: Rights groups – 10 November 2012
South China Morning Post – China says no to foreign rights monitors for Tibet – 9 November 2012
Reuters – China says no to foreign rights monitors for Tibet – 9 November 2012
Voice of America – Tibetan Protests Erupt in Western China – 9 November 2012