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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

US urges China to respect Tibetans' rights

October 5, 2011

(AFP) – 9 hours ago  WASHINGTON — The United States urged China to respect the rights of Tibetans and address their grievances after two monks set themselves on fire, triggering a security clampdown.
The State Department also urged Beijing to allow journalists and diplomats to observe the situation in Sichuan province's Aba county, which has seen a string of protests and self-immolations by monks.
The State Department said in a statement it was "seriously concerned" by attempts Monday by two monks at the Kirti monastery -- in China's southwest -- to self-immolate in an apparent call for religious freedom.
Although both were reported to have survived and were taken to hospital, a witness contacted by AFP said one of the two appeared to have suffered very serious injuries and was "unlikely to have survived".
"In light of the continuing underlying grievances of China's Tibetan population, we again urge Chinese leaders to respect the rights of Tibetans," the State Department said.
It also called for Beijing "to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tension, and to protect Tibetans' unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity."
"We continue to urge the Chinese government to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for both journalists and diplomats," it said.
Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated protests against perceived religious repression, according to rights groups, and previous self-immolations in the region have triggered a heavy-handed crackdown.
The two young monks reportedly cried out "long live the Dalai Lama" as they set themselves on fire, referring to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader -- revered by many Tibetans but criticised by Beijing as a "splittist."
Locals said Tuesday that police had cut Internet services and blocked roads near Kirti, also ordering groups of more than six people to break up.
One man reached by telephone at a local pharmaceutical company told AFP that people could not send or receive text messages.
Many Tibetans in China are angry about perceived religious repression, erosion of their culture, and also what they view as increasing domination by the country's majority Han ethnic group.
China, however, says that Tibetan living standards have improved markedly with billions in Chinese investment.
One of the two monks who set themselves ablaze was believed to be the brother of Phuntsog, a young Kirti monk whose self-immolation in March led to protests and a major security crackdown in the area.
Phuntsog was the second monk at Kirti to set himself on fire since the anti-Chinese riots in Lhasa of March 2008, the bloodiest in Tibet in 20 years.
"Since the self-immolation of young monk Phuntsog in March, Kirti monks have 'disappeared? and returned, broken by torture," said Mary Beth Markey of the International Campaign for Tibet, a rights group.
"Suicide is seen as the worst kind of taking of life and prohibited according to Tibetan Buddhist principles, so their actions are a measure of the anguish these young monks feel."
The latest protest followed the death of 29-year-old Tsewang Norbu, who set fire to himself and called for freedom at another Sichuan monastery last month.
Campaigners said the 29-year-old at the Nyitso monastery drank petrol before setting himself alight. Police and soldiers surrounded the monastery after his death.

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