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16 march 2012 001GENEVA, 15 March: Four international NGOs in their oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 13 and 14 March expressed concern about the current situation in Tibet.

Speaking at the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council under agenda Item 4's general debate on "Human Rights Situation that requires council's attention, Mr Tenzin Samphel KAYTA on behalf of Society for Threatened Peoples drew the Council's attention on series of self-immolations taking place in Tibet.

He said the self-immolators have called for "religious freedom in Tibet" and "return of their beloved spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet". 28 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009. 19 were confirmed dead and fate of others remain unknown. Last week alone, a student of 20-year-old woman, a 32-year-old mother-of-four and another two 18-year-old man and monk burned themselves alive. Sadly, all three died on the scene of their protest.

In 2008 there was widespread protests across Tibet. The Chinese authorities forcibly cracked down on the peaceful protestors. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Dharamsala, there are over 830 known political prisoners in Tibet. In 2011 alone, (as of 15 December) 230 known Tibetans have been arrested and detained.

Tibet today is virtually locked down and undeclared martial law is in place. Mr Jonathan Watts, Guardian newspaper's reporter based in Beijing described the situation in Ngaba area as "conflict zone".

The Chinese security forces opened fire on unarmed Tibetan protestors on three occasions in three different counties in late January this year. Five Tibetans were killed and over 30 were severely injured. Those injured from gunshots have been in hiding without medical treatment for fear of being arrested by the Chinese authorities.

Mr Kayta further said instead of Tibetan monks studying Buddhism, the Chinese communist official work teams have been rigorously conducting communist ideology and making the monks denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan monasteries. Monks have been arrested, expelled or force to leave their monasteries for refusing to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama and displaying allegiance to the Communist Party.

He reiterated Special Rapporteur on Food Mr Olivier de SCHUTTER statement at the Human Rights Council session that Tibet is virtually closed to outsiders and all communication channels were blocked making it hard to verify information. Tibet is under undeclared martial law, said Mr Kayta.

He called upon the Council to urge China to respect basic rights of the Tibetan people and allow unfettered access to independent observers including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in all restive Tibetan areas.

Ms Kalden Tsomo, spoke on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. She raised issues concerning Tibetan people's cultural rights and right to development.

She made reference to a Radio Free Asia report where Chinese miners had told locals Tibetans in Driru County in Nagchu Prefecture that "their permit had been approved by the Communist Party secretary of the TAR, and that those Tibetans protesting the mining site would be treated as separatists."

She further said that in 2010, at least four Tibetans were killed when police officers fired upon a crowd of Tibetans protesting mining in Palyul County, Kardze Autonomous Prefecture.

Just days ago, exile sources reported that 6 monks, including the Abbot of Lingka Monastery were given prison sentence ranging from 4 - 5 years for participating in a month-long anti-mining protest in Tamo, Shigatse in October - November 2011.

She called on the relevant Special Procedures of the Council to investigate how the Tibetan Peoples' right to development is carried out.

Mr Ngawang C Drakmargyapon on behalf of Asian Indigenous and Tribal People's Network drew the Council's attention to unresolved longstanding disappearance case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima since May 1995. He said Chinese government has so far not implemented the Committee on the Rights of the Child's recommendation on 30 September 2005 asking China to "[a]llow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents."

He said that on 3 August 2007, China's State Administration for Religious Affairs issued a decree that all the reincarnations of tulkus of Tibetan Buddhism must get government approval; otherwise they are "illegal or invalid".

However, he said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a public statement on 24 September 2011 made it absolutely clear about his reincarnation.

"When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism,... I (H.H. the Dalai Lama) shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People's Republic of China," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) expressed deep concern over Chinese officials' announcement to close the "Tibet Autonomous Region" from February 20 to March 31, 2012 for foreigners as well as the close off of Tibetan areas in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces where protests, crackdown and self-immolations occurred.

Mr Gianfranco Fattorini, a representative of PEC quoted the Chief of the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet who affirmed that "Mobile phones, Internet and other measures for the management of new media need to be fully implemented to maintain the public's interests and national security."

One journalist team reported that their car was suspiciously rammed by another vehicle. Reporters have been followed, questioned for hours, asked to write confessions and had their material confiscated.

He said that this is a clear violation of China's regulations governing foreign reporters, which allow them to travel freely and interview anyone prepared to be interviewed. He urged the Chinese authorities to provide free access to foreign journalists to Tibetan areas as such a guarantee will allow the international community to judge the situation with reports from as many as possible different observers.

On 13th March afternoon, a side event was held by three NGOs inside the UN building to discuss on human rights situation in Tibet. In this event, 6 minutes video footage of the Central Tibetan Administration showing Chinese security forces brutal treatment of Tibetans during 2008 protests and self-immolations was screened. Read full report on this side event.

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