DHARAMSHALA: The Scottish Parliament on 4 February held a lengthy debate on the wave of self-immolations in Tibet. The debate was held as part of a motion proposed by Maureen Watt, a Scottish politician and member of Parliament, to highlight the extraordinary and distressing situation prevailing inside Tibet. (View video)
The Scottish Parliament noted with grave concern that at least 127 (sic) Tibetans have self-immolated, often fatally, since February 2009. It said it understands that these actions are largely acts of protest against restrictions on religion, the Tibetan language, access to employment and the degradation of water resources and grazing lands.
It expressed concern at China’s attempts to prevent accurate reports of self-immolations reaching the media and condemns the criminalisation of family members and sometimes witnesses to the incidents.
The parliament stated that 11 countries urged China to improve the human rights of Tibetans at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 22 October 2013, and commends the work of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan studies at the University of Aberdeen, the Grampian Tibet Support Group and other groups across Scotland in highlighting human rights and supporting cultural and educational links with Tibet and beyond.
MP Maureen Watt, in her statement, have criticised the repressive policies of the Chinese government leading to Tibetan self-immolation and the subsequent military crackdown by Chinese authorities on the Tibetan people. She said that friends and relatives of self-immolators are being threatened or bribed by officials to cover up the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan self-immolators.
She raised the issue of, massive surveillance and restrictions on movement, imposed on the Tibetan people by the Chinese authorities in an attempt to create a communication blackout and curb the flow of information outside Tibet.
She spoke about the Tibetan people’s right to preserve their language, culture and the rampant mining of Tibet’s natural resources without any regard to the Tibetan people’s religious sentiments. She also raised the issue of mass relocation of ethnic Chinese into Tibet which is drastically changing the demographic outlook of the region.
She urged the Scottish parliament to persuade China to end the repression in Tibet explicitly saying, repression of culture is not a sustainable way forward to any culture or any country. She also urged the cabinet secretary to write to UNESCO encouraging them to do more to protect Tibetan heritage and culture.