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The 61st Tibetan National Uprising Day: Tibetan Canadians ask Canada to speak out for Tibet’s human rights defenders

March 10, 2020

Ottawa, March 10, 2020 – In a letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Tibetans from across Canada are urging that the minister intervene with Chinese authorities on behalf of Tibetan human rights defenders currently languishing in China’s prisons. 

The appeal coincides with rallies and vigils taking place across Canada in commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising on March 10, 1959.[i]

The letter to Minister Champagne appeals for his direct intervention on behalf of four political prisoners: Gendhun Choekyi Nima; Lobsang Jamyang (Lomik); Yeshe Choedron; and Tashi Wangchuk.[ii] These four are representative of the approximately 2000 documented cases of political prisoners in Tibet, many of whom linger in prison without charge or access to due process. Torture is widespread in prisons across Tibet.

“resilience of the Tibetan movement for freedom, for democracy and for better human rights.”, said Sherap Therchin Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee.  “We are asking our Minister of Foreign Affairs to be very clear with his counterparts in China; human rights in Tibet matter to Canadians.” 

[i] For the sequence of events leading to March 10, 1959, see: http://tibet.ca/_media/PDF/en/March_10_The_Lhasa_Uprising.pd

[ii] For a current database of Tibetan prisoners, see Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy at http://www.tchrd.org/tchrd_pdb  

 

PRISONER PROFILES

Tashi Wangchuk: In January 2016, a young Tibetan businessman and language rights advocate, was detained by police in his home area of Jyegudo, Kham, (Chinese: Yushu, Qinghai) following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language. The interview quoted him as saying that Tibet should have greater autonomy, especially in the issue of language, under Chinese governance. On May 22, 2018, Tashi Wangchuk received a five-year prison sentence, more than four months after his trail was held. He is now not due to be released until January 2021 and is at constant risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Five UN experts who released a statement of serious concern on February 21, 2018 that expressed serious concern over the ruling by a Chinese court to uphold charges of “incitement to separatism” to Tashi Wangchuk.

Gendhun Choekyi Nyima (the 11th Panchen Lama) (m): On May 15, 1995, the Dalai Lama named 6-year-old Gendhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama. On May 17, 1995, Chinese authorities abducted the child and his family. No charges have been laid and no trial is known to have taken place. China has admitted holding the Panchen Lama on numerous occasions including at the United Nations. Despite numerous requests from UN special procedures and world governments, including Canada, there is still no information as to the whereabouts or safety of the Panchen Lama.

Yeshe Choedron (f): The 57-year-old retired medical doctor was detained in 2008 after protests broke out in Lhasa on March 14. On November 7, 2008, the Lhasa People’s Intermediate Court sentenced her to 15 years’ imprisonment for allegedly providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the state” to “the Dalai clique’s security department”. No additional details are known. Sources report that Choedron has not been permitted visits from her children since her sentencing.

Lobsang Jamyang (Lomik) is a young Tibetan writer and monk. He was detained by Chinese authorities on April 17, 2015 while attending a class at his monastery, Kirti Monastery, in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (CH: Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province). He remained ‘disappeared’ for a year, and his whereabouts and any information concerning his detention, were not released to his family until May 9, 2016, when he was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison on charges of “leaking state secrets” and “engaging in separatist activities.”

 

 

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