UN Secretary-General urges China for restraint in Tibet

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint in Tibet in the wake of disturbances in the region, according to the United Nations News Center. Speaking to reporters following a luncheon with members of the Security Council on March 17, 2008, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he is “increasingly concerned” about recent developments in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, including reports of violence and loss of life, and urged restraint by the authorities there, according to the UN.

The Secretary-General said he had a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to the UN on March 17 morning and “expressed my concern and my views to the Chinese Government.”

A report on the UN website said Mr. Ban’s comments come just days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued a statement calling on the Chinese authorities to allow protestors to exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly, after some 60 monks were reportedly arrested in Lhasa during a peaceful demonstration on March 10.

Mr. Ban was asked about the role of the UN in Tibet, particularly in the light of the Dalai Lama’s request for an international investigation of what’s going on there, UN Radio reported. He responded, “I have been closely following the recent development of the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.” “I am increasingly concerned about the tensions and reports of violence and loss of life in Tibet and elsewhere, and I stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution,? the report added.

Following is the unofficial transcript of the Secretary-General’s press encounter following luncheon with Security Council members on March 17, 2008.

SG: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to see you again. We had a very good Security Council informal luncheon meeting. During our meeting, we discussed the situations in Darfur, Sudan, Kosovo, Chad, also Somalia and Cyprus.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, a couple of things on the situation in Tibet. Do you believe there is a role for the United Nations to play, particularly in light of the Dalai Lama’s request for an international investigation of what’s going on there? And what would be your message to the Chinese Government about how they should be handling the situation, based on what you know of what’s been happening?

SG: I have been closely following the recent development of the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. I am increasingly concerned about the tensions and reports of violence and loss of life in Tibet and elsewhere. At this time I urge restraint on the part of the authorities, and call on all concerned to avoid further confrontation and violence, and I stress the importance of a peaceful resolution.

Q: Do you see a role for the United Nations to play?

SG: We will continuously monitor the situation, and we will get back to you.

Q: I notice that in the things that you mentioned that you had discussed with the Security Council, Tibet did not show up. Is that a threat to international peace and security, in your view, the situation there?

SG: We have not discussed this matter, and it was not on the agenda.

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Q: My question is about Tibet again, I am sorry Mr. Secretary-General, to repeat this question, but, how many numbers of casualties did you receive as reported from the field, and did you have any words with the Chinese authorities about this incident?

SG: As I said, I am closely monitoring the situation. As for the exact number of casualties, I would have to check again. I had a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador this morning, and also we discussed this matter. I expressed my concern and my views to the Chinese Government.