WASHINGTON — The United States said Monday it was "seriously concerned" over self-immolations by Tibetan monks, adding they represent deep frustration over curbs on religious freedom in China.
"We're seriously concerned by reports that three more Tibetans have self-immolated over the past few days," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding Washington has consistently raised the issue with Beijing.
State media said a Tibetan monk died after setting himself on fire in Qinghai in northwest China, taking to 15 the number of people who have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas in less than a year in apparent protest.
It was the first time the Tibetan-inhabited province has been hit by such a death. Most self-immolations have taken place in neighboring Sichuan province, in what rights groups say are protests against perceived religious repression.
"These actions clearly represent... enormous anger, enormous frustration with regard to the severe restrictions on human rights, including religious freedom, inside China," Nuland said, referring to the wave of self-immolations.
"And we have called the Chinese government policies counterproductive," she said.
The US have also "urged the Chinese government to have a productive dialogue, to loosen up in Tibet and allow journalists and diplomats and other observers to report accurately, and to respect the human rights of all of their citizens," she said.
The State Department issued a similar statement in October.
During a visit to Honolulu for an Asia-Pacific summit in November, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed alarm over the wave of self-immolations.
The Tibetan government-in-exile based in India says that it does not encourage self-immolations but understands the frustrations behind them.
Thousands of Tibetans in India have attended protests or prayers to criticize China's rule of the predominantly Buddhist region.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet for safety in India in 1959. He met in July with US President Barack Obama, angering China.
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