Not a degree of freedom for Tibetans within China: US diplomat

[PTI] WASHINGTON, Nov 26: Tibetans within China do not enjoy freedom within the Communist nation, a top US diplomat has said after meeting Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal.

The US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Sarah Sewall, who is also Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights talked of her assessment of human rights conditions in Tibet during an interaction with reporters here on Monday.

There are 30 Tibetan Associations across US and Canada representing near about 15,000-17,000 Tibetans.

During her trip to the two countries, she met Tibetan refugees in both the countries and gained first-hand information about the situation in Tibet from them.

She also met the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala.

“I spent much of my time talking to refugees and talking to the organisations that welcome and work with refugees about the situation in China, because they tend to have more recent stories,” Sewall said.

“I met with several people who had left China recently, and I spoke to many people who have family in China,” she added.

“Their assessment of the situation tracks very much with the State Department’s assessment of the situation, as recorded in our human rights reporting – that there is not a degree of freedom for Tibetans within China that we think is consistent with international human rights standards,” the top American diplomat said.

Sewall said she also had a wide range of discussions with the Dalai Lama.

“We spoke about non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, to include the questions of preserving Tibetan culture, religion, and education in every place that Tibetans currently reside,” she said.

“That’s a very wide-ranging discussion that, of course, also includes concerns about the refugee community with whom he works closely,” she added.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, a separatist.

The Dalai Lama, however, says he is only seeking genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Sewall said the US Government has spent an enormous amount of its resources and its energy seeking to support Tibetan in particular refugees, but also Bhutanese refugees in the two countries.

She announced a new USD 3.2 million USAID grant to help modernise the health system for Tibetan refugees during her visit to Nepal.

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