Dharamsala, May 23 (IANS) Leaders of the Group of Seven nations say that the human rights situation in Tibet is a "major concern to us" and that they will continue voicing their concerns about it.
In a communique following the group's just-concluded annual summit, the G7 leaders said: "We will keep voicing our concerns about the human rights situation in China, including in Tibet and Xinjiang where forced labour is of major concern to us."
Responding to communique, the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people, on Tuesday said, "This communique by G7 leaders shows that China's abuses in Tibet have not escaped the attention of some of the most influential leaders on the planet."
"Rather than try to hide its oppression of Tibetans or lash out at criticism from foreign governments, the government in Beijing should get back to the negotiating table and respond positively to the initiative of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership in exile to peacefully resolve the longstanding conflict in Tibet."
The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, with the high representative of the European Union acting as an observer.
G7 leaders met for their annual summit May 19-21 in Hiroshima.
China has illegally occupied Tibet for over 60 years, forcing the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959.
Today, under Chinese rule, Tibet is the least-free country on the earth alongside South Sudan and Syria, according to global rankings from the watchdog group Freedom House.
A recent US State Department report chronicles allegations of "forced disappearances, arrests, physical abuse, and prolonged detentions without trial of monks, nuns, and other persons due to their religious practices" in Tibet last year.
In addition, the Chinese government has reportedly separated nearly one million Tibetan children from their families and sent them to colonial-style boarding schools, where they are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese in a curriculum built around Chinese culture.
Since 2009, nearly 160 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet and China in a desperate attempt to draw attention to their people's plight.
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan exile administration is based in this hill town.
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