Michael Posner, US assistant secretary of state for human rights. (Photo/Reuters David Gray)
DHARAMSHALA, December 1: Family members of three Tibetans who set themselves on fire in protest against China’s rule met with a top US official who expressed Washington’s grave concern over the critical situation in Tibet.
The assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Michael Posner met with families of three Tibetan self-immolators at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday.
"He (Posner) expressed our deepest condolences and our grave concern for the spiraling violence and harsh crackdown in Tibetan areas as well as, you know, grief with regard to the self-immolations," Nuland told reporters without disclosing the identities of the family members.
"I think in order to protect them and their families, I won't go into any more details," she said.
The recent escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet has witnessed 28 Tibetans set themselves on fire in the month of November alone, demanding freedom and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile. An alarming total of 90 Tibetans have self-immolated since the fiery wave began in 2009.
“We remain very concerned about rising tensions that result from counterproductive policies, including those that limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Tibet,” Nuland said.
The State Department said it was disturbed over reports that Chinese police injured 20 Tibetan students earlier this week in a mass students’ protest against “a government-issued booklet which derided the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama and self-immolators.”
"We are going to continue to raise this publicly and privately and urge the Chinese government, at all levels, to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people," Nuland said.
She added that the State Department will issue “a larger statement” on the Tibetan situation next week.