Tibetan prime minister deplores self-immolations

Tibet’s prime minister in exile has called on Switzerland to speak out over self-immolations happening in protest at Chinese rule.

This content was published on November 22, 2011 - 09:53 and agencies

In Bern for an official visit, Lobsang Sangay said he regretted that the international community had not paid the same attention to self-immolations in Tibet as it had to those which happened in the context of the Arab Spring.

At least 11 monks, nuns, and former monks in Tibet have self-immolated this year.

Sangay met high-ranking officials from the foreign ministry as part of his first tour of Europe.

The foreign ministry told the Swiss news agency that “the self-immolations as such and the desperation they express are very worrying”. A spokesman added that Switzerland regularly raised human rights issues, and particularly that of Tibet, with China.

After meeting Maya Graf, vice-president of the Swiss-Tibetan parliamentary group, Lobsang told a Bern press conference the self-immolations were “tragic, very sad”.  Tibetans are “resorting to such desperate acts because the situation is desperate”.

He expressed a wish that free trade talks between Bern and Beijing take into account “moral” principles.

Sangay, a 43-year-old Tibetan Harvard law graduate, was elected the political successor to the Dalai Lama in April after the spiritual leader’s decision to hand over these responsibilities. He told media in Bern that he intended to be very active politically and would be able to speak out more frankly than the Dalai Lama.

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