Washington: Tibetan students held peaceful demonstrations in the US Capital amidst calls from lawmakers and rights bodies urging the Obama Administration to raise the issue of human rights violations in Tibet during talks with the Chinese officials.

On the eve of the fifth US China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED), Students for a Free Tibet organized two demonstrations one near the White House and the other in front of the Chinese Embassy, which they said in protest against the unprovoked bloodshed in Tibet.

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a global symbol of peace, a beacon of the Tibetan people's faith and nonviolent resistance against Chinese colonialism," said Pema Yoko, International Grassroots Director of Students for a Free Tibet. "Its gut wrenching to hear that monks, nuns and lay Tibetans were shot indiscriminately by Chinese police simply for offering prayers on his birthday," she said.

"It's appalling that on one of the holiest days of the year for Tibetans, Chinese forces refused to allow even peaceful prayers," said Kate Woznow, international director, Students for a Free Tibet.

"World leaders cannot just continue to shake hands with Chinese leaders who order this kind of disgraceful massacre of helpless pilgrims.     It's time for multi-lateral action headed by democratic powers from around the world to end the Tibet crisis once and for all," Woznow said.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said that the US should seize the opportunity to demonstrate its coordinated approach to human rights promotion in China by raising human rights at all segments of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

"If there's a lesson to be learnt from the last Strategic and Economic Dialogue, it's that being visibly tough on human rights issues is wholly compatible with making progress on other bilateral concerns," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

"Virtually all of the US' goals - diplomatic, economic and strategic - depend on securing the rule of law, the free flow of information and the ability of people to peacefully speak their minds in China," Richardson said.

In another statement, Senator Sherrod Brown also urged the Obama Administration to press China on several issues including the human rights issue in China. He urged the Secretary of State John Kerry to help safeguard human rights of Chinese citizens, including the right to free speech, access to information and freedom of the press; free political prisoners whose only offence is criticizing the Chinese government and promoting more inclusive policies in Tibetan and Uyghur ethnic minority areas.


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