China Closes Tibet to Tourists
RFA: Travel operators say Chinese authorities have closed Tibet to foreign visitors and canceled visas for the region.The move comes days after two Tibetans set themselves on fire in the region to protest Chinese rule.No reason was given for the ban on foreign visitors with several Beijing based tour operators saying the restrictions could last for several months.The ban comes as Tibetans prepare for a month-long (Saga Dawa) festival marking the birth of Buddha which normally draws thousands of tourists.
China enacted a similar ban on foreign visitors around the same time last year and has done so periodically during religious holidays or periods of unrest.
Nearly 40 people, including Buddhist monks, nuns and their supporters have set themselves on fire since March 2011 to protest Chinese rule.
China says the immolations incite separatism and are directed from outside the country. But representatives of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in northern India, say protesters aredriven to self-immolate in large part because they can no longer tolerate Beijing’s ongoing push against Tibetan culture and religion.
European Union has raised concerns over the rights of the Tibetan people with the People’s Republic of China at the recently concluded EU-China Human Rights Dialogue on May 29 in Brussels.
To Media statement issued Wednesday, the EU said that the European side raised a number of issues of concern within China, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, notably Tibetans, Uighurs and Christians.The statement said that the 31st round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue “allowed a wide-ranging and frank exchange of views on human rights between the two sides.”
“Under the general topic of criminal punishment and deprivation of liberty, China and the EU discussed issues such as residential surveillance and arrest, house arrest, treatment of petitioners, detention in prisons and solitary confinement.”
EU reiterated its wish to continue holding the dialogue twice each year, and also expressed disappointment that China had not agreed to a second session of the dialogue in 2010 and 2011.