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Geneva: - 12 March: The EU, USA, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Austria today expressed concern about the critical human rights situation in Tibet during the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

"The EU is profoundly saddened by the numerous self-immolations in Tibetan-inhabited areas," said the EU delegate to the UN Human Rights Council.

Speaking on behalf of the 27 member states, the EU delegate said that Europe "encourages China to re-engage in constructive dialogue with the Tibetan people and to allow free access to the Tibetan autonomous area."

The EU further urged China to take steps to implement the right to freedom of expression, including on the internet, as well as freedom of assembly and called for the release of2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo along withother prisoners of conscience.

The EU delegate deplored "the widespread use of the death penalty and calls on the Chinese authorities to take immediate steps to reduce its application whilst moving towards a moratorium."

The US said that China's policies undermine the language, culture and traditions of ethnic religious minorities – heightening tensions in Xinjiang and Tibetan areas of China.

"Recent decision to use criminal proceedings against the families and associates of Tibetans who have self-immolated has further increased tension," said the US delegate.

The US delegate said that China continues to silence dissidents through arrest, conviction, forced disappearances, illegal detention & other forms of intimidation. The US delegate highlighted the tightened controls on the internet, persecution of human rights lawyers and the intimidation of activists' families. It also said that China is impeding civil society, harassing domestic and international journalists and limiting religious freedom.

Germany expressed its continued concern about human rights violations in China. It raised strong concerns about the recent reports about "detention and harsh sentences against Tibetans, charging them with incitement and incitements to self-immolation."

Germany called on the Chinese authorities to respect fundamental rights and the rule of law. It urged China "to address the deep rooted causes of ongoing self-immolations in a peaceful manner, respecting the cultural & religious rights of Tibetans." Germany further encouraged China to facilitate the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the near future.

The Czech Republic, who have consistently raised the Tibetan issue in the UN, said, "We would like to address the overall human rights situation in China as there is a lack of effort by authorities to debate this issue. We remain deeply concerned by the continuing self-immolations in Tibet."

The Czech Republic raised the detention and prosecution of Tibetans "who have allegedly been associated with self-immolation protests of other Tibetans like Mr. Lorang Tsering and Mr. Lorang Konchok."

The Austrian delegate called upon the Chinese authorities to ensure that the rights of all minorities, including Tibetans and Uyghurs, are respected as guaranteed in China's constitution. The Swedish delegation also expressed its government's concern about the rights of Tibetan and Uyghur people.

"We are particularly alarmed by the rising number of self-immolations among Tibetans," said the Austrian delegate.

Mr. Tenzin S Kayta, speaking on behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples said that the human rights situation in Tibetan areas has significantly deteriorated since March 2008. The dignity of the Tibetans and their very basic human rights have been severely violated.

107 Tibetans from all walks of life have self-immolated since February 2009 while calling for "return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama" and "freedom in Tibet". Sadly of this number, 90 have died.

There is a direct relationship between self-immolations and China's political repression, economic marginalization, environmental destruction and cultural assimilation in Tibet.

Mr. Kayta further said that there is no space for protest to express one's grievances in Tibet today. In June 2012, 17-year-old Jigme Dolma protested in Kardze region of eastern Tibet. The Chinese security forces beat her and two months later she was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

He said that Chinese officials, however, are saying, "We have nothing to hide. Anyone can come and see by themselves", yet China has failed to accept visit requests by 12 UN Special Procedures mandate holders as well as foreign journalists and diplomats.

Mr. Kayta said the international community must hold China accountable to its pledges and obligations to protect human rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.