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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?"

Tibet group writes to Canadian Foreign Minister amid worsening rights situation in Tibet

December 31, 2020

Ottawa, February 22nd, 2021 - In a letter sent earlier this month to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Marc Garneau, the Canada Tibet Committee urged the minister to take diplomatic action regarding the recent detention, torture, and death of several Tibetan human rights defenders by Chinese authorities.

The letter highlights the custodial torture and death of a 19-year-old Tibetan monk Tenzin Nyima and the arbitrary arrest of 6 other Tibetans from the same town for their involvement in peaceful protests calling for Tibet’s independence.

Tenzin Nyima died in January 2021 from injuries sustained under detainment; reports include indications of beatings, malnourishment, and other signs of mistreatment while in custody. UN standards adopted by the General Assembly set out that all death-in-custody cases should be subject to “prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the circumstances and causes” of the death. Monk Tenzin was beaten within inches of his life before being released back to his family in a comatose state 

Death-in-custody is an exceedingly common phenomenon among Tibetan prisoners in China, and while the treatment of Tenzin Nyima did not violate the technical letter of UN standards, it most certainly undermines the spirit which maintains their foundations. Thus far, no investigations or familial reparations have been forthcoming for the Tibetans. 

According to reporting from Human Rights Watch and independent researchers such as Adrian Zenz, these incidents follow patterns of repression brought about by the CCP’s coercive relocation and “Poverty Alleviation” programs enacted in Tibet. The Wonpo protests were a natural reaction and a result of genuine frustrations with the increasing pressure placed on forcibly resettled nomads and local residents to praise the Chinese government’s schemes.

Just days after the letter campaign to the Canadian Foreign Minister, another Tibetan, Kunchok Jinpa - a 51-year-old tour guide - died in hospital due to custodial torture while serving a 21-year prison sentence for reporting on protests in his native region. 

After more than seven decades, Tibet remains an illegally occupied nation and Tibetans continue to be oppressed in their own land. “Censorship, surveillance, arbitrary detention, and forced indoctrination trainings have turned the Tibetan plateau into a giant open-air prison system by the Chinese authorities,” said Sherap Therchin, executive director of the Canada Tibet Committee.

By Sherap Therchin and Anvesh Jain


Anvesh is a Research Associate at the Canada Tibet Committee and a student of International Relations at the University of Toronto.

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