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China Rejects UN Rights Chief Request to Visit Tibet བོད་སྐད།


China has rejected a request by the top United Nations human rights official to visit Tibet to look into anti-Chinese protests there.

A spokesman Rupert Colville for Louise Arbour, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, says Chinese authorities say it is not convenient at this time for her to visit. He added Chinese officials say Arbour is welcome to visit at a later date that would be mutually convenient.

Aside from a few supervised tours for journalists and diplomats, China has locked down Tibet and allowed little access to the Himalayan region and other Tibetan areas since a crackdown began in March.

Restrictions were originally supposed to be lifted on May first, but now the Associated Press is reporting that China has reversed that decision and may apply further delays.

According to the Associated Press, tourism agencies have received verbal notices to stop arranging trips to Tibet in early May, when the Olympic torch comes to the Himalayan region.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman did not deny the delay, but stressed that the Chinese-appointed government in Tibet is taking special measures to bring everything back to normal.

The U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet says it has received what it called reliable reports that Tibet might not be reopened until after the Beijing Olympic Games, which end on August 24th.

Tibet's government-in-exile says as many as 150 Tibetans have died over the last four weeks of protests. Chinese officials say about 20 "innocent" people died in Lhasa, but have not said whether others also died on March 14th.

On March 10th, rare demonstrations were held in Lhasa commemorating the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. The demonstrations later turned violent, and a deadly crackdown by police spurred protests in other Tibetan areas and around the world.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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