Geneva, 4 March: This afternoon Kirti Rinpoche met Mr Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, at the UN offices in Geneva. A briefing followed this meeting with an official from the Office of the President of the UN Human Rights Council.
Rinpoche said that the reason why he was at the UN today was directly associated with the present situation in Tibet and with my Ngaba region, where most of the 107 self-immolations have taken place.
“Tibetans in Ngaba,” he said, “had suffered for three generations under the Communist Chinese starting with Mao’s Long March in Ngaba area in 1936-37.” Rinpoche said his parents suffered during the Mao’s Long March in Ngaba area, himself in run up to 1959 and the present generation of Tibetans born under the Chinese rule.
Since 2008, Kirti Monastery has been virtually turned into a prison, he said. In late April 2011, 300 monks were forcibly removed from the monastery. About 22 Tibetans were shot dead on 16 March 2008 by the Chinese security forces during a peaceful protest by Tibetans in the region. The youngest among the dead was a middle school student, 16-year-old girl Lhundup Tso.
Kirti Rinpoche said that his immediate concern was for the safety of the families, relatives and friends of the Tibetans who have self-immolated. He asked the Special Rapporteur for his help to ensure their safety.
In late 2012, Beijing vowed to charge Tibetans found “inciting” a self-immolation with murder.
On 31 January 2013, Lobsang Kunchok, 40, of Kirti monastery and Lobsang Tsering, 31, from Ngaba, were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and 10-year imprisonment respectively for allegedly inciting Tibetans to self-immolate by a Chinese court. On the same day, six more Tibetans from Labrang, Tibet, have been pronounced equally harsh sentences.
Rinpoche will visit Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and United Kingdom after Switzerland.