Dharamshala: - The US embassy in China has released some interesting photos of Ambassador Gary Locke's recent visit to Tibet, including capital Lhasa, a region tightly controlled and repressed by the Chinese government.
The photos show Ambassador Locke's meeting with local officials and visits to schools and monasteries, including Jokhang in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and Gaden Monastery near Lhasa.
Gary Locke has travelled to Tibet on a rare diplomatic visit to the restive autonomous region to "increase his familiarity with local conditions", the US embassy in Beijing confirmed June 27.
He was accompanied by family members and embassy staff on three-day trip, organised by the local government, in and around Lhasa . He will return to Beijing today. US embassy spokesman Justin Higgins said it was the first time authorities had approved an embassy request to visit Tibet Autonomous Region since September 2010.
On June 28, the State Department's spokesperson, Mr Patrick Ventrell, told reporters that Ambassador Locke called on the local authorities of the autonomous region to preserve Tibet's language, culture, and religion, and expressed our deep concerns over self-immolations.
"Ambassador Locke met with local officials, including the Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and Lhasa Party Secretary Qizhala. He met with leading monks from a number of Lhasa monasteries that attended his meetings with Secretary Chen," he added.
US Ambassador "also called on TAR authorities to preserve in these meetings – to preserve Tibet's language, culture, and religion, and expressed our deep concerns over self-immolations," Vertrell told reporters.
In terms of the potential for a consulate, "that still remains our policy, that, as envisioned in the Tibet Policy Act, we'll continue to make the best efforts to establish a consulate in Lhasa."
He said the US government would continue to make the best efforts to establish a consulate in Lhasa. The visit is the first by an American official to the Tibet autonomous region since 2010.
Locke visited Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Sichuan Province) last year, but this is his first visit to autonomous region. Foreign tourists and journalists wanting to travel there must require a special government permit.
Locke's visit comes only a week after Rigzin Wangmo, a daughter of the late 10th Panchen Lama, travelled to the capital on her first visit for several years. Thousands of Tibetans greeted her outside holy Jokhang temple before being dispersed by police, sources said, adding that Chinese government had blocked her from entering the region for many years.
Capital Lhasa usually become known as under heavy military surveillance and presence, however, was suddenly changed into a normal city. The security posts and armored vehicles deployed in the Barkhor and surrounding areas, were suddenly disappeared, sources coming out Tibet said.
The sources also stated that the Chinese police officers with machine guns who are always visible on on the flat rooftops of the Barkhor area were gone, and several checkpoints- that scanning body and monitoring mobile phone were placed around the city also had been removed.
Since 2009, over 119 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese government's continued repression of Tibet.All of those who have self-immolated have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
For some years, an unending wave of self-immolation protests has occurred in Tibet, the Chinese government has increasingly imposed severe restrictions on Tibetans in all parts of Tibet, particularly Kham and Amdho region and the so called "Patriotic re-education," has been strictly implemented, particularly in monasteries in the Himalayan region.
Tibetans are being arbitrary arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities. These things happen to Tibetans on an almost daily basis.
There is also widespread dissatisfaction with the resettlement policies in many parts of the Tibetan plateau, as a Tibetan nomads forced to abandon their traditional lifestyles, have been forced to move to another place.
The situation grew extremely tense in many areas in the region, because of Chinese troops and police have been increasingly deployed around the monasteries and surrounding areas to prevent the wave of self-immolations and protests against Chinese rule.