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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Situation faced by Tibetans reminiscent of Canada’s indigenous experience, says Canadian Senator

November 27, 2017

Canada Tibet Committee, November 26, 2017 – In an impassioned presentation in Canada’s Senate last week, five Senators rose to speak about Tibetan human rights defenders currently imprisoned in China’s prisons because they spoke out for human rights in Tibet.

The Senate Inquiry was initiated by Senator Dennis Patterson, who also brought attention to the case of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s Panchen Lama who was abducted by Chinese authorities in 1995 when he was just 6 years old.  The boy has not been seen or heard from since.

In speaking about a visit he made to Tibet in 2008, Senator Patterson reflected on the similarities he saw between the experience of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule and that of Canadian indigenous communities in northern Canada.

“Even with the protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a benevolent federal government, it is an ongoing struggle for Inuit to preserve their language and culture”, Senator Patterson told the Senate.

Noting similar challenges for the Tibetan people living under Chinese rule, Senator Patterson concluded that “I do hope this inquiry will serve, as our government reaches out to engage with China, to emphasize that in doing so we must also reinforce and advocate for the basic human rights and freedoms that we cherish and protect in Canada.”

Senator Marilou McPhedran focused on the denial of due process for detained Tibetans.  Bringing the Senate’s attention to the case of Dr. Yeshe Choedran, Senator McPhedran said “Individuals like Yeshe Choedron deserve to live their rights and have equal opportunities, as we do,” adding that Canadians “need to wake up.”

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo described how constraints on cultural expression have resulted in the imprisonment of writers and bloggers including Shokjang and Tashi Wangchuk.  Senator Ngo said, “We are looking at the Chinese government controlling border areas, combatting separatism and extracting natural resources — the cost of which is the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, linguistic heritage and the civil rights of the Tibetan population.”

Senator Linda Frum concluded the inquiry statement by calling on Canadian Senators to urge the Government of China to “release all Tibetan prisoners of conscience”.

The Canadian Senate Inquiry was a result of Canada Tibet Lobby Days (CTLD), an annual project of a Canada-wide coalition of Tibet NGOs and community associations.  Following CTLD, case information for participating Senators was compiled by the Canada Tibet Committee.  Kalon (Minister) Ngodup Tsering and Thubten Samdup representing the Canada Tibet Committee were present in the Senate for the inquiry. 

The inquiry is scheduled to continue with additional statements in the Senate before the Christmas break.  For more information, contact

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