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UN leader concerned for Tibet hunger strikers

Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed concern for the health of three Tibetans outside the United Nations headquarters engaged in a hunger strike.

New York: UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed concern for the health of three Tibetans outside the
United Nations headquarters engaged in a hunger strike to
highlight the crisis in the Chinese-controlled region.

"The Secretary General affirms the right of all people to
peaceful protest. He is however very concerned about the
health of the hunger striking protesters," Ban`s spokesman
Martin Nesirky said as the protest entered a fourth week.

The three men outside the United Nations building in New
York attracted growing attention as western China was hit by
protests by ethnic Tibetans on the anniversary of unrest in
2008. One monk set himself on fire and students took to the
streets, rights groups said.

UN Assistant Secretary General Ivan Simonovic met a
representative of the Tibetan Youth Congress in New York on
Monday, the UN spokesman said.

The Congress has been representing the protesters -- named
Dorjee Gyalpo, Shingza Rincpohe and Yeshi Tenzing -- who are
wrapped in blankets in the street.

Their protest started on February 22 to demand a UN
fact-finding mission in Tibet, and international pressure on
China to end what they call an undeclared martial law in

Simonovic "said he would convey the group`s concerns to
the relevant special rapporteur and the office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva in line with
established procedure in line with handling human rights
matters," the UN spokesman told a briefing.

The UN Assistant Secretary General also met on Monday with
China`s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations and briefed
Ban`s office on the talks. No details were made public of the
meeting however.

China is extremely sensitive to international criticism on
Tibet, where there have been a growing number of
self-immolation protests in recent months.

Many Tibetans in China complain of religious repression,
as well as a gradual erosion of their culture, which they
blame on a growing influx of majority Han Chinese in areas
where they live.

China, which put down a 1959 uprising led by the Dalai
Lama -- who is currently in exile -- says Tibetans now lead
better lives than ever thanks to huge government investment.

The Beijing government accuses overseas organisations of
seeking independence for Tibet and blames the Dalai Lama for
the unrest.


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