Erlangen, January 16: The German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Markus Löning has called for an end to the repressive political environment in Tibet saying that further repression will fail to reduce the despair of the Tibetan people.

“The Chinese government should work toward creating a political environment that will relax the tensions in the Tibetan region,” Löning said last week.

The German Human Rights Commissioner was speaking to representatives of the Tibet Initiative Deutschland (TID) in Berlin.

Löning said that the recent wave of self-immolations in Tibet “is an expression of the sustained discontent and desperation of the Tibetan people in China.”

In the past 11 months, 16 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

The most recent case of self-immolation that occurred on January 14 in the besieged Ngaba region of eastern Tibet, which alone has seen 11 Tibetans set themselves ablaze, sparked an impromptu demonstration by over 700 Tibetans. Chinese security forces fired live ammunition on the crowd killing an elderly Tibetan woman. The casualties are believed to be much higher.

In a release, TID said that representatives of the organisation met with the Human Rights Commissioner Löning to deliver 19,245 signatures demanding the immediate release of political prisoners in Tibet.

“The repression taking place in monasteries and the persecution of intellectuals demonstrate that the Chinese leadership is pursuing the systematic destruction of Tibetan identity,” the Chairman of TID, Wolfgang Grader said.

In 2010, Löning had met with Lhamo Tso, the wife of the imprisoned filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen during her Europe tour to garner support for her husband’s release.