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Canada, EU too ask China to engage in dialogue on Tibet

Posted on Dec 15, 01:18PM | IANS

After the United States called for addressing policies that are pushing Tibetans to immolate themselves, Canada and the European Union (EU) have asked China to engage in a dialogue on Tibet.

"I am concerned about the escalating number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China and the increasingly punitive measures being taken in response, which further exacerbate tensions in the region," Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird said Friday.

Supporting Tibetans' freedoms of expression, assembly and association, Baird said: "Canada encourages China to give full consideration to the traditions and culture of the Tibetan population in a manner that will help ease tensions. We call on China to lift restrictions on access to the affected areas for the diplomats, media and other observers."

A total of 95 Tibetans had set themselves on fire in Tibet since 2009, 82 of them this year, to protest Beijing's "repressive policies" and demand the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which is based here, said.

The Canadian foreign minister urged China to engage in substantive and meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives in working toward a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues that is acceptable to both sides.

In separate statement, the EU has expressed concern over the restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity.

"While respecting China's territorial integrity, the EU calls upon the Chinese authorities to address the deep-rooted causes of the frustration of the Tibetan people and ensure that their civil, political, economic and social and cultural rights are respected," the EU said.

Supporting last month's statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the EU called on Tibetans to refrain from resorting to extreme forms of protest, such as self-immolation, and on their community and religious leaders to use their influence to help stop this tragic loss of life.

Earlier, the US urged China to address its policies that are pushing Tibetans to immolate themselves.

"The US is deeply concerned and saddened by the continuing violence in Tibetan areas of China and the increasing frequency of self-immolations by Tibetans," special coordinator for Tibetan issues Maria Otero said Dec 6.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in this north Indian hill town.