DHARAMSALA, March 24 (IANS): The United Nations has assured three Tibetan youth on hunger strike in New York that it will send a special rapporteur to Tibet to investigate the "very grim situation" there, Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay said here Saturday.
"An official from the UN Thursday visited the three hunger strikers. He assured, both verbally and in writing, that the UN will try to send a special rapporteur to investigate the actual situation inside Tibet, which we think is the acknowledgement of a very grim situation in Tibet," a statement quoting Sangay said.
He said repeated appeals had been made by the government-in-exile to the UN to send a special rapporteur or an envoy to Tibet to investigate the real conditions inside Tibet where several Buddhist monks have immolated themselves to demand freedom.
According to a post on the website of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest group of young exiles, three Tibetans who have been on hunger strike outside the UN headquarters for the past month ended their protest Thursday after the UN said investigators would look into events in Tibet.
Sangay, the political head of the exiles, said: "And also from the news accounts that we have read, the Australian ambassador in China has requested the Chinese foreign ministry to allow to visit Tibet to assess the situation in Tibet."
"These two events, even though not the extent we would like to see, are in many ways an indication that truth will be heard, truth will be supported, and hopefully truth will prevail," he said.
A string of self-immolations broke out in Tibetan areas in the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai bordering Tibet in recent months to press their demand for return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom be restored for Tibetans inside Tibet.
A total of 17 people have reportedly killed themselves this year.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet along with many of his supporters and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.
China has denounced the Dalai Lama as the "ringleader of the conspiracy of Free Tibet".