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Tibetan exiles urge China to discuss self-immolations

Posted on Nov 08, 02:13PM | IANS

As five more people immolated themselves in Tibet in a single day, the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, the democratically elected assembly of the Tibetans in exile, Thursday appealed to China to deliberate on the self-immolation protests.

The appeal came just a day after the the largest number of self-immolations were confirmed in a single day Wednesday.

"We urge the 18th Congress to seriously deliberate on the continuing spate of self-immolations in Tibet," the speaker of the Tibetan parliament Penpa Tsering told IANS.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opened in Beijing Thursday, with Chinese President Hu Jintao calling on all the party members and the Chinese people to "march on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics".

Five Tibetans immolated themselves in Tibet on the eve of the National Congress, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based here said.

A total of 68 people have reportedly killed themselves since March 2009 to protest Beijing's "repressive policies" and demand the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland, it said.

Seeking a thorough probe into the causes of self-immolations, the parliament-in-exile urged the Chinese leadership to stop accusing their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama with exaggerated and distorted statements.

"We urge the People's Republic of China to usher in conducive atmosphere for our people to freely practice and promote our religion, culture and language," said Tsering.

He also urged the Communist Party of China to provide amnesty and release all Tibetan political prisoners to foster positive policy transformation in Tibet.

"We urge the imminent upcoming new Chinese leadership to desist from the existing policy of avoidance or the false notion of not accepting the existence of a "Tibetan Issue". Rather we urge you to revive the channels of meaningful contacts to resolve the longstanding issue of Tibet," the speaker added.

The Dalai Lama, who believes in the "middle-path" policy that demands "greater autonomy" for Tibetans, fled Tibet along with many of his supporters and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.

He is viewed by the Chinese as a hostile element bent on splitting Tibet from China.

India is home to around 1,00,000 Tibetans and the Tibetan government-in-exile, which has never won recognition from any country.