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22th-November-2011-australian-mpsDharamshala, India: - Three Australian politicians - Mr Micheal Danby, Mr Laurie Ferguson MP and Ms Melissa Parke MP - have expressed their strong concern over the ongoing human rights violations in Tibet. They have called on the Chinese government to end its repressive policies, which restrict the basic freedom of Tibetans to practice their religion.

On November 21, Ms Melissa Parke became the third Australian parliamentarian in the last month to draw attention to the crisis in eastern Tibet, expressing her deep concern over the recent spate of self-immolations by young Tibetans.

Ms Parke said she hopes the Australian government will continue to call on China, via bilateral human rights dialogue, to enter into meaningful negotiations with Tibetan representatives and address the underlying causes of ethnic tensions in Tibet.

She noted that economic development must accommodate the protection of the unique linguistic, cultural and religious identity of the Tibetan people.

"I am saddened and deeply concerned about the recent instances of self-immolation by young Tibetans in eastern Tibet," said Ms Parke.

"Ten Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March, in a desperate bid to bring attention to the severe repression of Tibetan religion and culture.

"Five young Tibetans, including one nun, have died as a result of their injuries. The condition and whereabouts of the remaining four are unknown.

"Seven of the Tibetans are linked to Kirti monastery - an important Tibetan religious institution which was active during the uprisings of 2008.

"The first immolation took place on March 16 - the third anniversary of a protest at Kirti monastery during which Chinese forces shot and killed 13 Tibetan monks.

"China reacted by further increasing security, stepping up ‘patriotic education' campaigns and restricting the religious activities of the monks.

"This has resulted in an escalating cycle of protest and crackdown, and the ongoing level of repression has driven these young Tibetans to a final desperate act.

"We have already seen the first self-immolation outside the Ngaba area, in the Tibetan town of Kardze. Unless the issue is addressed, there is a danger of these fatal protests spreading further.

"I hope the government continues to call on China, including through the bilateral human rights dialogue, to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Tibetan representatives to address the underlying causes of ethnic tensions in Tibet, noting that economic development must be accompanied by the protection of the unique linguistic, cultural and religious identity of the Tibetan people."

On November 14, Mr Micheal Danby MP - chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade - and Mr Laurie Ferguson MP - Chair of the Human Rights Sub-committee - called on the Chinese government to cease its heightened repressive measures against the monks at Kirti monastery.

Mr Danby spoke in parliament last week, saying, "The crackdown on Tibetan monks since the 2008 uprising has been brutal and repressive.

"The Chinese authorities are using extreme force in a crackdown at Kirti monastery, enforcing the ‘patriotic education' campaigns and placing an indefinite ban on religious activities at the monastery.

"Earlier this year, 300 monks from the monastery were taken away for ‘legal education', for taking part in a demonstration.

"The crackdown on the monks at Kirti monastery exemplifies the wider crackdown across Tibet against any expression of Tibetan identity through their religious practice.

"This process of eliminating Tibetan cultural heritage and the removal of monks from the monasteries is in direct violation of the freedom of religion and beliefs."

On October 19, the Australian government raised its concerns with the Chinese government in both Beijing and Canberra over the self-immolations and called on China to address the underlying causes of tension in Tibet.

"This situation requires urgent attention in order to prevent these fatal protests from spreading further," continued Mr Danby.

"At the same time, China must address the underlying resentment towards the Chinese government's policies, which the Tibetans believe to threaten the survival of their distinct culture. A resolution of the situation will not only benefit the Tibetans, but also the long-term stability of China."

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