DHARAMSHALA: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said on thursday that he was discussing with Chinese authorities a visit to the troubled region of Tibet, Reuters reported.
“China in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) agreed to the recommendation that there be a visit by the High Commissioner to Tibet. So we are discussing this issue with the Chinese authorities,” Mr Zeid told his first news briefing in Geneva.
Mr Zeid, a veteran Jordanian diplomat at the UN, assumed his functions as UN High Commissioner on 1 September. He succeeded Ms Navi Pillay, who had urged the Chinese government to promptly address the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas.
“I’ve had a few very preliminary discussions about this. We agreed we would sit at some stage and elaborate a concept of how this is going to take place,” Mr Zeid told reporters.
The last Universal Periodic Review of China in October last year took place against the backdrop of tragic self-immolations by Tibetans in protest against its repressive policies in Tibet. Since 2009, 132 Tibetans have set themselves on fire calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
The Central Tibetan Administration has said Tibetans are driven to self-immolation due to political repression, religious persecution, cultural assimilation and economic marginalization and environmental destruction. It has consistently appealed to Tibetans to not to resort to drastic actions including self-immolation. (CTA’s White Paper: Why Tibet is burning…)
Asked if he would only visit Tibet proper, or also assess the rights situation in other parts of China, UN HIgh Commissioner Zeid said the details were still being worked out.
“Perhaps it’s premature to discuss where exactly I would visit, but in the initial dialogue we spoke of a multi-day visit, so I suspect that I will be able to move around if indeed we are able to get the visit in place soon,” he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.