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Exile Tibetans want EU to investigate self-immolations

May 28, 2012

The head of the Tibetan government in exile called on the European Union on Friday to send an investigative team to areas where dozens of Tibetans have set themselves ablaze in protest at Chinese rule.

VIENNA, Reuters: Prime Minister in exile Lobsang Sangay told a news conference that 35 Tibetans have set themselves on fire and 27 of them had died in what he said were attempts to seek freedom for Tibet and the return of its exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who was sitting beside Sangay.

"It is very clear the situation within Tibet is dire and is getting worse," Sangay said ahead of a demonstration in Vienna on Saturday that he said would show international solidarity.

He said he would urge the EU to name a special coordinator on Tibet "and if possible to send a delegation to Tibetan areas where there are cases of human rights violations ... particularly the cases of self-immolation, so that they could examine why it is happening and ... how best to solve the issue".

The exile government in Dharamsala was ready and willing to resume formal talks with the Chinese government after a hiatus since January 2010, Sangay added.

"Genuine autonomy within China or within the framework of the Chinese constitution is what we seek. We are not challenging China's sovereignty or territorial integrity," he said.

For the Chinese government, the self-immolations are a small but destabilising challenge to its regional policies, which it says have lifted Tibetans out of poverty and servitude.

China, which has ruled Tibet since Communist troops marched in 1950, has branded the immolators as terrorists and blamed Tibetan separatist forces for fomenting hatred among the people.

The Dalai Lama was scheduled to meet Austria's chancellor and deputy chancellor on Friday despite warnings from Beijing that such meetings would harm bilateral ties.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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