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Tibetans ask China to discuss self-immolation

Posted on Nov 08, 02:39PM | IANS

As five more people immolated themselves in Tibet, the Tibetan parliament-in-exile Thursday asked China to discuss the spate of self-immolation protests.

The appeal came a day after the largest number of self-immolation cases were confirmed on a single day Wednesday.

"We urge the 18th Congress (of the Communist Party of China) to seriously deliberate on the continuing self-immolation in Tibet," the speaker of the Tibetan parliament, Penpa Tsering, told IANS.

The Congress opened in Beijing Thursday, with President Hu Jintao calling on 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 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" in Tibet and demand the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland, it said.

Seeking a probe into the causes of self-immolation, the parliament-in-exile urged the Chinese leadership to stop blaming the Dalai Lama for the horrific protests.

"We urge 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.

"We urge the imminent upcoming new Chinese leadership to desist from the existing policy of ... not accepting the existence of a 'Tibetan issue'. Rather, we urge you to revive the channels of meaningful contacts to resolve the long-standing issue of Tibet," the speaker added.

The Dalai Lama, who wants greater autonomy for Tibetans, fled Tibet with many of his supporters and took refuge in India after Chinese troops moved into 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 is won recognized by any country.