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ScottishParliament-TibetLondon: - The grave issue of self-immolations in Tibet witnessed fresh discussion on February 4th with the allocated debate of the crisis raised in Scottish Parliament.

In recognition of the deteriorating human rights situation within Tibet, member of Parliament Maureen Watt formed the motion to address the issue and of Scotland's role to uphold human rights at the international table.

During the debate Watt highlighted the 'extraordinary actions of some Tibetans, who are moved to protest against Chinese policies in the region', condemning China's human rights record in Tibet.

She observed that over the past three years, 'at least 127 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the oppression of their religion and culture by the Chinese'. She continued to thank supporters of Tibet, and of their tireless work and efforts in raising the issue and attempting to preserve Tibetan culture.

Additional voices to the debate included MP Julian McGregor, who called for unrestricted access to Tibet, and raised the urgent need for Tibetans to be able to practice their religion and language. McGregor added that he sincerely hoped to see a changed stance from China, particularly due to their current place in the UN council and the observation of basic human rights.

MP Alison Johnson concurred that she was pleased to have the first discussion on Tibet and the self-immolation protests in the Scottish parliament, stating that: 'these self-immolations aren't an irrational form of protest – they feel this is the best option available to change the appalling situation they find themselves in'.

The meeting came about in part as a response raised at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, by 11 countries for China to improve the human rights of Tibetans. Grave concern was also raised at China's attempts to prevent accurate reports of self-immolations reaching the media, as well as media blackouts and mass surveillance programmes in the aftermath of protests, and MPs condemned the criminalisation of family members and witnesses to the incidents.

The delegation also concurred that the actions of Tibetans self-immolating are largely in response against restrictions on religion, language, access to employment and the degradation of water resources and grazing lands in nomadic regions across Tibet.

It was noted that Scottish Parliament should aim to persuade China to end the repression within the region explicitly, adding that in order for China to develop economically, it must also develop socially, and that currently China does not present a sustainable way forward. It was added that the Cabinet secretary of Scottish Parliament should write to UNESCO encouraging them to do more to protect Tibet's vulnerable heritage and culture.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop re-iterated: 'Let me be clear, the Scottish government condemns human rights abuses wherever they occur and upholding basic civil and political rights is a core duty of this state'.

Please click the following link to listen to the debate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeFpxGG4aUQ

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