UN scrutiny of Tibet crisis required
The Chinese authorities must allow independent UN investigation into the events of the last week in Tibet and lift the long-term restrictions on human rights monitoring in the area. After a week of unrest, the region has been sealed off. Amnesty International has called on the Chinese authorities to show restraint in responding to continuing protests in Lhasa and elsewhere in Tibet. International law requires that governments handle such crises in ways that uphold fundamental human rights and the principles of necessity and proportionality in the use of force. The authorities must also fully account for all detainees and release those detained solely for peacefully expressing their views. "The Chinese authorities also need to address the underlying grievances of the Tibetan people and the long-term policies that have generated such resentment," said Catherine Baber, Director of the Asia-Pacific Programme at Amnesty International. "The situation also demands attention by the UN Human Rights Council at its current session." Tibetans' long-term grievances include perceived exclusion from the benefits of economic development, restrictions on religious practice, and government policies weakening their culture and ethnic identity. On Friday, protests in Lhasa turned violent, with protestors setting fire to Chinese-owned businesses, police stations and attacking Han Chinese. As a result, thirteen persons died according to official Chinese sources, largely Han Chinese businesspeople in Lhasa. Police and military forces were reported to have fired teargas and live ammunition into crowds and beaten protestors in an attempt to disperse them. According to spokespersons for the Tibetan Government in Exile this has resulted in around 80 deaths. A curfew is reported to have been imposed throughout Lhasa and all shops are closed. Entry into the city has been blocked off through check-points. Armoured vehicles and contingents from the People’s Armed Police are present throughout the city. Reports suggest that scattered protests continued in parts of the city over the weekend.
Police and military forces have surrounded three major monasteries in the Lhasa area, confining monks inside and beating those who have attempted to leave. Monks from Sera monastery are reported to have started a hunger strike demanding the withdrawal of military forces from their monastery.