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2012-03-20-Self-ImmolationsDharamshala: --- The US Government's annual report on Human Rights highlighted the lack of religious freedom in Tibet as well as the harsh repression and crackdowns in the region which causing self- immolations by Tibetans.

The Communist regime "interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions generated profound grievances and contributed to a series of self-immolations by Tibetans," said the new report issued on Monday, July 30, 2012.

"More than a billion people live under governments that systematically suppress religious freedom," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in remarks summarizing the new report.

The report cited tightened restrictions on Buddhist clergy and worship in Tibet and Tibetan areas, saying, "Official interference in the practice of these religious traditions exacerbated grievances and contributed to at least 12 self-immolations by Tibetans in 2011."

From the latest report's separate section on Tibet: "There were numerous and severe abuses of religious freedom, including religious prisoners and detainees. Monasteries were increasingly forbidden to deliver traditional educational and medical services to the people of their communities, and official intimidation was used to compel acquiescence and preserve a facade of stability."

"New technologies have given repressive governments additional tools for cracking down on religious expression," Mrs. Clinton said. "Members of faith communities that have long been under pressure report that the pressure is rising."

"There was a marked deterioration in the government's respect for and protection of religious freedom in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas, including increased restrictions on religious practice, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries," the report said.

"We will continue to advocate for religious freedom. This is a bedrock priority of our foreign policy," said Clinton. In terms of religious freedom as a human right, she said, "the world is sliding backwards."

The report said, "Government and CCP control over religious practice and the day-to-day management of monasteries and other religious institutions tightened, particularly at Kirti Monastery, which saw the highest concentration of self-immolations."

The State Department said the Chinese government harassed, arrested or sentenced to prison a number of people for activities reported to be related to their religious practice.

Beijing continued to "severely repress Muslims" living in the Xinjiang region (Eastern Turkistan), and there were further crackdowns on Christian house churches, according to the report.

"The annual report, largely based on unconfirmed media reports and groundless allegations from outlawed groups and organizations with ulterior motives, is nothing but a political tool used by the U.S. government," China said in a statement posted on Tuesday by the state controlled news agency 'Xinhua.'

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