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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

MP speaks out on human rights in Tibet

April 12, 2008

Catherine O'Hara
Apr 11, 2008

"Troubling" and "reprehensible." These are the words used by
Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MP David Sweet to describe the
recent violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters in China.

Since being elected, Sweet has joined the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet
(PFT), a group that focuses on representing the views of Canadians on
the issue of Tibet within the Parliament of Canada and various
multilateral parliamentary associations.

As part of his involvement with PFT, Sweet and his colleagues have
published reports on policy issues, including human rights. He is also a
member of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Human Rights.

"We basically look at, for the most part, international human rights
violations," he said of the sub-committee's role. Reports are published
and sent to the Committee of Foreign Affairs that will decide whether it
will make the reports public to the House of Commons.

The conflict that has erupted between the People's Republic of China and
Tibetans is "something that is very important to me," said Sweet. So
important that he moved a motion to recognize the Dalai Lama with
honourary Canadian citizenship. Both the Senate and the House of Commons
unanimously approved the motion in June 2006.

Having met the Dalai Lama on a few occasions, Sweet felt the need to
voice his concerns regarding the recent actions taken by the Chinese
government. In the aftermath of the aggressive onslaught, public
demonstrations were held in various cities, including Toronto and on
Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Sweet believes PRC government officials have
absorbed the public's reactions.

"The People of the Republic of China, they see the expression of
disapproval of the people (at the demonstrations)," he explained. What
is most upsetting, he added, is that the Dalai Lama has offered to meet
with the Chinese president and other leaders and has repeatedly stressed
he is not asking for Tibetan independence.

"He is the recognized Spiritual Leader of the Tibet people, and he isn't
just that - he's also a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate," said Sweet of the
Dalai Lama.

China has repeatedly disregarded the Dalai Lama's call for peace talks.
"My hope is that the Chinese government can sit down with the Dalai Lama
and dialogue in good faith," said Sweet.

China's stance is that the Dalai Lama and his supporters are
purposefully organizing the protests to sabotage the Olympics in
Beijing, slated to begin on August 8, to help promote the independence
of Tibet. Sweet believes that the People's Republic of China should be
held accountable to the fact that they committed to make significant
improvements on human rights issues when the International Olympic
Committee awarded Beijing the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.

"Last week's actions fly in the face of the Chinese government's
assurances that they are making progress in recognizing human rights.
The Tibetan people have a history as peace-loving citizens and the Dalai
Lama has made it abundantly clear that he and his negotiators are not
seeking independence or separation from China, but simply the freedom to
protect their culture and religion and to share in their region's
prosperity," explained Sweet.

The local MP believes that the government of China must put an end to
the military crackdown in Tibet, provide visas for international
observers to enter Tibet, cease human rights abuses and provide good
faith efforts to meet with the official negotiators of the Dalai Lama.
Sweet encourages Canadians to voice their concerns as well.

"Individual Canadians can write the Chinese Ambassador, write letters to
the editor about the military crackdown," he said.
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