U.N. rights official faults China on Tibetan suppression

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GENEVA -- The top United Nations human rights official took China to task Friday over suppression of the rights of Tibetans, which she said had driven them to "desperate forms of protest," such as self-immolation.

In a statement, Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, said she was disturbed by reports of detentions, disappearances and excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, as well as curbs on Tibetans' cultural rights. Ms. Pillay said "serious concerns" had been raised over alleged torture and ill treatment of detainees and about standards of their trials.

Ms. Pillay said she had had "several exchanges" with the Chinese government regarding the issue, and her rare public criticism of Beijing's conduct on human rights appeared to reflect a measure of frustration.

"We felt the time had come to talk publicly about that," Pillay spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday in Geneva, citing the dozens of Tibetan self-immolations protesting Chinese rule reported since 2011, including several in recent weeks. Such extreme forms of protest are evidence of how serious the Tibet situation has become, and "we don't see any visible signs of progress," Mr. Colville said.

"More needs to be done to protect human rights and prevent violations," Ms. Pillay said in the statement, urging China to release Tibetans who had been detained merely for exercising such fundamental rights as freedom of expression, association and religion. "Social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights," she said.

Ms. Pillay said China had pledged to step up cooperation with the United Nations on human rights, but that there were 12 outstanding requests to visit China by U.N. special investigators on various issues.

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