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US Congressmen write to Chinese authorities: cease criminalization of relatives, friends of self-immolators

February 15, 2016

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, February 4, 2016 - Since 2009, 143 Tibetans who are known to have self-immolated in Tibet and elsewhere in China. Their tragic decisions are most commonly understood as a protest against the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet and as a means of calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

On February 1, TLHRC Co-Chairs Jim McGovern and Joseph Pitts wrote to the Chinese authorities to express their deep concern regarding the prosecution and labeling as “criminals” of relatives and friends of self-immolators, and potentially entire communities in which the self-immolators lived. They urged the Chinese government to inform them about the number, name and whereabouts of Tibetan people who have been detained, convicted or whose fate is not known as a result of their alleged affiliation to a self-immolation, and requested that the International Red Cross be allowed to visit those who are still in prison or in custody.

The Co-Chairs also urged the government to reverse the policy of criminalization and nullify the resulting convictions. In the meantime, Tibetans and others accused of being involved with self-immolations should be represented by legal counsel, and those lawyers should not face persecution or punishment.

The letter can be read in full at: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/sites/tlhrc.house.gov/files/documents/20160201_Amb.CiuTiankai_Self-Immolations.pdf

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