United Nations, Geneva, 29 February – As the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council continued to hear from dignitaries during a “High-Level Segment,” Czech Republic’s Deputy-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister raised the cases of self-immolations by Tibetans.

Addressing the Council today, Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg stated: “With serious unease, we follow the continued escalation of tensions in Tibetan areas of China as evidenced by a spate of self-immolations. Last year, 22 Tibetans decided to act in such a tragic way in order to wake up the establishment and attract our attention.”

Mr. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister in his statement asked the Human Rights Council to pay tribute to the thousands and thousands of human rights defenders who demanded their legitimate, universal rights.

“Across the globe – in Iran, in China, in Belarus – journalists, bloggers, lawyers, union leaders, women’s rights activists and other courageous men and women work tirelessly to promote the rule of law and human rights,” Mr. Bildt said.

“All too often they face enormous risks. And they deserve a strong and clear message of support from this session.”

This afternoon, when the Council held a panel discussion “freedom of expression on internet,” moderated by Riz Khan of Al Jazeera TV, one NGO, Press Ensemble Campaign, in its contribution to the discussion alerted everyone about the closure of Tibet to foreign journalists.

Streaming video of the UN Human Rights Council is available online here raquo;