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.” A copy of the letter is enclosed in full below.
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. The full text of the Foreign Minister’s responses to Parliamentarians are enclosed below.
25 November 2011
Thank you for your letter of 18 October, regarding the self-immolation of several Tibetan monks.
I fully share your concerns over these shocking events. It has been clear for some time that measures implemented by the Chinese authorities appear seriously to undermine the religious, linguistic and cultural rights of the Tibetan minority. The EU raised the issue at the last EU-China human rights dialogue on 16 June. It expressed its concerns on a number of issues, including the increasing legal restrictions on religious practice in Tibet, the limitations on the teaching of the Tibetan language, the ongoing official campaign against Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures, and the impact on Tibetan culture of the forced resettlement of nomads.
The EU also raised the situation at Kirti monastery, and in particular the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang. It called on the Chinese authorities to allow all Tibetans, including monks, to exercise their cultural and religious rights without hindrance, and to refrain from the use of force against peaceful protest. The Chinese reply dismissed the EU’s concerns, and emphasized that Chinese policies in Tibet had led to significant economic development. China claimed that the self-immolation of Phuntsog Jarutsang represented an “organised plot” by the monks, for which the perpetrators had been sent for “legal awareness” education.
Since then, several more Tibetan monks have set fire to themselves. 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 respected. On my behalf, Commissioner Kroes underlined our concerns on this issue in the emergency Parliamentary debate of 27 October.
The EU remains fully engaged on this issue. It urges the Chinese authorities to refrain from implementing policies which undermine the religious, linguistic and cultural rights for the Tibetan minority. It urges them 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.
Oral Answers to Questions
29 November 2011: House of Commons Hansard Oral Answers to Questions: Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Tibet
Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): What representations he has made to the Chinese Government following recent self-immolations in Tibet. 
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), raised our concerns about the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister in Beijing earlier this month.
Nic Dakin: I advise the House of my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Recently, I met the Dalai Lama, who made clear his concern that all involved should work for a peaceful solution in line with the middle way. Does he share that approach?
Mr Hague: We are seriously concerned about recent reports that young monks and nuns in Tibetan areas of Szechuan province have immolated themselves. As I said, we have taken that up with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, and with the Chinese embassy in London. We encourage, of course, the resolution of grievances that have led to that situation. We will continue to encourage the Chinese Government to take that constructive approach.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington) (Con): As the Chinese Government have been able to recognise and respect the autonomy of both Hong Kong and Macau in the People’s Republic, should they not allow autonomy for Tibet, to ensure that, within the People’s Republic, its unique culture and identity are properly respected and recognised, and will the Government try to encourage it to do so?
Mr Hague: My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very fair point indeed. As he knows, we recognise Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China, but we call for meaningful dialogue between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities in the interests of autonomy in future. Of course, we always call for respect for human rights.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): I am sure that the Foreign Secretary welcomed China’s recent recognition of the aspirations and rightful demands of the Syrian people. Does he think that that is a positive development, as China may be beginning to realise that repression does not deliver genuine stability, and it should have the confidence to recognise the aspirations and rightful demands of the Tibetan people, too?
Mr Hague: Such language is positive and I continue to believe, as I said in the House yesterday, that the veto of our proposed UN resolution on Syria by Russia and China was a mistake and did not take into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. On the question of Tibet, we encourage the meaningful dialogue of which I spoke a moment ago.