March 22, 2012 5:41 pm

GENEVA: 30 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet since February 2009, said Amnesty International on 19 March during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

These self-immolations are “protest against these restrictions, and the heavy presence of security forces since 2008 when protests swept across the region. Tibetans have also held prayer vigils and demonstrations against repressive government policies,” said Amnesty International.

On three different days the Chinese authorities have used force to break up some peaceful demonstrations and have detained participants. A delegate from Amnesty International expressing its concern said, Chinese security forces shot protestors, killing at least three and injuring dozens.

The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action urges all States to promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

“Freedom of religious worship is guaranteed under the constitution of China and so are the rights of minority nationalities. Nonetheless, restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and religion and on cultural rights continue in the Tibet Autonomous Region,” said Amnesty International.

It criticised China for branding the Tibetans who have self-immolated as “very bad reputations” or “criminal records.”

The rights groups said that following the self-immolation of a young monk in March 2011, three people were sentenced to prison terms of between ten and 13 years for “intentional homicide” following the self-immolation of a young monk in March 2011.  No details from their trials were released. The Amnesty International said that from past records these trials would not have been conducted in accordance with international fair trial standards.

Amnesty urged the Chinese authorities to:

· redress violations of the freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and cultural rights which have fuelled resentment among Tibetans;
· provide information about the current whereabouts and well-being of individuals who set themselves on fire in protest and were removed from the scene;
· provide information about lay people and religious people detained
· resume meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan community who can represent widely-held human rights concerns;
· exercise restraint in policing demonstrations and conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the allegation of use of excessive force
· allow independent monitors into the region.

In its Right to reply, the Chinese delegation said it strongly rejects the groundless remarks made by Amnesty International. China has been promoting democratic rights for over 50 years and Tibet has experience a sea change.

The present situation in Tibet was strongly raised by the EU, US, Germany, France, UK, Czech Republic and Canada. Eight international NGOS including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and International Commission of Jurist made statements on Tibet at this ongoing UN Human Rights Council session.