European foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton has made a strong statement about the self-immolations of Tibetans in a response to concerns raised by two European Parliamentarians, Barbara Lochbihler, Chairwoman of the Sub-Committee of Human Rights, and Laszlo Tokes, the Vice-President of the European Parliament. In the letter, a copy of which was obtained from the MEPs by ICT, Baroness Ashton states that she fully shares their concerns “over these shocking events.” In the letter, dated October 25, Baroness Ashton writes: “The fact that so many Tibetan monks have chosen to take such tragic steps demonstrates the profound and continuing depth of feeling among many Tibetans that their rights are not being respected. […] [The EU] urges [the Chinese authorities] to address the root causes of the self-immolations – in particular the lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region – and to enter into a meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan minority.”
In the UK, Foreign Minister William Hague said that the UK government was “seriously concerned” about the self-immolations, in response to questions raised in Parliament on Tuesday (November 29). It has been confirmed that there will be a full debate in the UK Parliament on Wednesday, December 7 – the first since April, 2008.