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World: U.S. Urges China To Ensure Religious Freedom

Washington, 9 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United States is urging China to respect religious freedom and release all people imprisoned simply because they have expressed divergent religious and political views.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns made the comment yesterday in response to a reporter's question about the recent conviction in Tibet of senior monk Chadrel Rinpoche. He was sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly leaking state secrets.

Burns said the United States was "deeply disturbed" by the Chinese decision to jail the monk. He noted that Rinpoche had already been detained for nearly two years in what Burns said was a violation of Chinese law. Burns also noted that the trial in Tibet's Xigaze prefecture was held in secret in violation of international standards.

He said the United States urges China to ensure the exercise of religious freedom and to preserve Tibet's unique cultural, lingustic and religious heritage.

The United States officially considers Tibet to be part of China.