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tibet-lhasa-2010Berlin, July 26, 2012: - The Chinese authorities apparently imposed an entry ban on Tibet for tourists coming from Austria, Great Britain, Norway and South Korea as is shown in the correspondence of Austrian and German travel agencies with their Chinese counterparts.

"In E-Mail correspondence examined by Tibet Initiative Germany (TID) the Chinese side discloses that certain nationals currently don't get the necessary visas for Tibet", said Wolfgang Grader, TID-chairman.

"This is a way for the Chinese government to punish citizens of countries whose governments they believe have recently shown political misconduct." One message read that no visas were being issued for Austrian nationals because the Austrian government had received the Dalai Lama in late May.

"We can confirm that lately there have been restrictions on entry permits for Austrian nationals", said a representative of the Austrian Foreign Ministry. "The problem has already been presented to the Chinese authorities and the embassy, but as of now there has been no official response.

Therefore the media is increasingly speculating about a political motivation behind the nonapproval of entry applications." On request by Tibet Initiative Germany the Chinese embassy in Vienna retained that there were no irregularities in the visa granting process, but said that during the main tourist season not all applications could be considered.

"This is not the first time Tibet is closed off to western tourists", said TID-chairman Wolfgang Grader. "This happens at least once every year when Tibetans observe the anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising in March 1959."

Due to the accelerating number of self-immolations and protests there had been more and more blockings in recent months. "The fact that there now seems to be a red-list with countries not welcome to Tibet shines a bad light on Chinese diplomacy."

The Tibet Initiative Deutschland (TID), founded in 1989, advocates for the Tibetan people's right to self-determination and the protection of human rights in occupied Tibet. With almost 60 regional groups and nearly 2,000 members throughout Germany, the TID is a strong voice for Tibet.

This is not for the first time Beijing has prohibited travel to Tibet for foreign nationals. After Two young men set themselves on fire in Lhasa outside the Jokhang Temple on 27 May this year, the authorities limited foreign passport holders from entering the Himalayan region.

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