MSP condemns China's human rights record in Tibet

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SNP MSP Maureen Watt condemned China's human rights record in Tibet, during her member's debate entitled 'Self-immolations in Tibet', on 4 February 2014.

Ms Watt told the Scottish Parliament that in the past three years at least 127 Tibetans had set themselves on fire in protest against the oppression of their religion and culture by the Chinese.

The SNP MSP described Chinese oppression in Tibet of such things as "religious freedoms, language rights, access to employment and the destruction of water resources and grazing lands by large scale mining projects".

China annexed Tibet in 1950, leading to the head of state - the Dalai Lama - setting up government in exile in 1959.

The Dalai Lama claims Chinese occupation has led to the deaths of 1.2 million inhabitants, the suppression of Tibetan cultural identity and the destruction of most of the region's monasteries.

China refutes these claims and maintains its sovereignty over Tibet goes back centuries.

Ms Watt leant her support to the work of the UN Human Rights Council's efforts to exert pressure on China to improve the human rights of Tibetans.

She commended the work carried out by the Scottish Centre for Himalayan studies at the University of Aberdeen and the Grampian Tibet Support Group in highlighting human rights and supporting cultural and educational links with Tibet.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Let me be clear, the Scottish government condemns human rights abuses wherever they occur and upholding basic civil and political rights is a core duty of this state."

Ms Hyslop continued that the Scottish government "is committed to engaging with the Chinese government on the issue of human rights" and "respect for human rights and rule of law is one of the four guiding principles" of the Scottish government's China Strategy which is intended to underpin relations.

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