The US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, is in Tibet this week—the first visit by an American ambassador to the restive region since 2010. A spokesman said that Locke is on a three-day trip with members of his family and several embassy staff to meet with residents and government officials and raise concerns about the “deteriorating human rights situation,” specifically the self-immolations by Tibetans in protest against Chinese rule.
At least 120 people, some under the age of 18, have committed suicide by immolation since 2009. Most recently, a 31-year-old Tibetan nun in China’s southwestern Sichuan province set herself on fire on June 11 and died in the hospital a few days later. The Dalai Lama, who is often blamed by Beijing for masterminding the immolations, said after the incident that he doubts their effectiveness.