Tibetan leader Lobsang Sangay presses US on immolations

Tibetan government-in-exile's prime minister Lobsang Sangay China refused to talk to Lobsang Sangay

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Tibetan exile leader Lobsang Sangay has urged US politicians to put pressure on China over a recent spate of self-immolations by ethnic Tibetans.

Mr Sangay told a news conference in Washington that the US should try to get access to areas where Tibetans have set themselves on fire.

Seven monks from the Kirti monastery in Sichuan province have set themselves on fire in recent months.

The monastery has seen repeated protests against Beijing's rule.

There have also been reports of three other self-immolations by ethnic Tibetans in other areas since March.

Mr Sangay, who has been holding talks with politicians in Washington over the issue, said he wanted an international delegation to visit the area.

The Tibet Divide

  • China says Tibet was always part of its territory
  • Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th Century
  • In 1950, China launched a military assault
  • Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
  • Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India
  • Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

He also denied encouraging unrest in Tibetan areas - an accusation often made by the Chinese authorities.

"If you protest in Tibet, more often than not you get arrested, or beaten up, sometimes tortured, sometimes you disappear, sometimes you die," he said.

A US government spokeswoman told the AP news agency that the Obama administration has repeatedly asked for access to Tibetan areas.

Mr Sangay was elected by Tibetan exiles around the world earlier this year to take on the Dalai Lama's political role.

Beijing refused to recognise the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile and has refused to talk to Mr Sangay.

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