By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 10, 2020

DHARMSALA, India (AP) - Tibetan President-in-exile Lobsang Sangay urged the United Nations human rights chief on Tuesday to visit Tibet to examine rights violations and press for unrestricted access to the China-controlled region.

Sangya made the statement as the Central Tibetan Administration, the exile government, commemorated the 61st Tibetan Uprising Day on Tuesday. On March 10, 1959, Chinese soldiers crushed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa, forcing the spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and over 80,000 Tibetans into exile in India and other countries.

China announced last month that the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, will visit China this year.

Bachelet, a former president of Chile, has been pushing China to allow U.N. officials to investigate reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Sangya wants Bachelet to add Tibet to her itinerary.

“We strongly urge her to visit Tibet and press China for unfettered access in order to monitor the deteriorating human rights conditions in Tibet,” he said.

“If the Chinese government harbors any hope that the Tibet issue will gradually lose its momentum, we would like to send a clear message that we will persist. The indomitable courage of Tibetans inside Tibet will continue to inspire those of us in exile to strengthen our commitment,” he said.

He said Tibetans still want genuine autonomy, and for that, “the Chinese government must resume dialogue with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

Meanwhile, members of the Tibetan Students Association of Madras organized a march in Chennai as part of the commemorations of Uprising Day, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The protesters carried banners reading “Let’s talk China” and “China, wake up, no more killings.”

China does not recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates substantial autonomy and protection of the region’s Buddhist culture.

Around 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, mostly in India. Over 6 million Tibetans live in the Tibet region.

The U.N. and rights activists say at least 1 million ethnic Uighur and other Muslims are held in detention centers in Xinjiang. China rejects charges that they are detention centers, and describes the centers as training facilities to help stamp out terrorism and extremism.

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