Amnesty International (AI) [official website] on Sunday demanded [press release] that China immediately release protesters who have been imprisoned since the self-immolation of two Tibetan men in Lhasa late last month. According to Tibetan [BBC backgrounder] activists, China has arrested and detained as many as 600 Tibetan residents and held them at numerous detention centers outside of Lhasa. While AI "cannot independently verify the number or nature of the arrests" they are calling on Chinese authorities "either to charge those being held with a recognizable criminal offence or release them immediately." Since 2009, at least 38 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule over Tibet and called for the return of the exiled Dalai Lama [official website].
China has long imposed rigid restrictions on Tibet. In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] demanded [JURIST report] that China release Tibetan prisoners that were captured while traveling and who are now being forced into political re-education camps. In November 2011, the UN formally expressed concern [JURIST report] over China's treatment of Tibet. That June, concern over an influx of missing persons prompted a UN rights body to demand a report on disappearances [JURIST report]. The same month, the US requested China release peaceful protesters [JURIST report] arrested in Tiananmen Square. In July of 2010, HRW published a report alleging China violated international law [JURIST report] in its treatment of Tibetan protesters. Secrecy in China's judicial system [JURIST comment] often raises human rights concerns over prisoners being held there.