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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?"

Open letter – Urgent appeal to Canada's religious communities from the Canada Tibet Committee

May 17, 2011

Ongoing reports of a crackdown by the government of China against Buddhist monks at Tibet's Kirti monastery, coupled with the detention of 40 Christians and the house arrest of 500 more congregants wishing to celebrate Easter this past April, has prompted us to write to you on the 16th anniversary of the abduction by Chinese authorities of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama.

As you know, during Canada's recent election campaign, the Conservative party put forward the proposal to create an Office of Religious Freedom. Such an office would operate within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. According to the Conservative party platform, it would monitor religious freedom around the world, promote religious freedom as a key objective of Canada's foreign policy and advance policies and programs that support religious freedom.

The Canada Tibet Committee believes it is incumbent on faith-based organizations to speak with a common voice regarding religious freedom in China and, ultimately, to work with a future Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that the right to worship freely will be a right enjoyed by every Tibetan and Chinese citizen alike, because deplorably those who try to worship freely in China today face severe repression.

As a tragic illustration of this repression, Chinese security forces sealed off the Kirti monastery, in northeastern Tibet, on March 16th, following the self-immolation of Phuntsog, a young Tibetan monk. Phuntsog set himself on fire to bring attention to the injustices facing those who were arrested during the 2008 Tibet uprising.

On April 21st, Chinese authorities stormed the monastery attacking a group of civilians who were attempting to prevent the monks from being arrested. Two elderly Tibetans – 60 year old Dhonkho and 65 year old Sherkyi – were killed in the attack. According to sources, the 2,500 monks living at the monastery were then subject to random beatings, intimidation, searches and arrests. Over 300 monks have since disappeared. The monastery revered among Tibetans has been turned into a virtual prison.

In addition to repressive actions against traditional religious minorities in China, Christians and other denominations have also suffered severe restrictions to their practices.

It's why the Canada Tibet Committee encourages faith-based organizations in Canada to join together to establish an inter-denominational task force to focus on promoting religious freedom in China.

We urge you to join with us in condemning publicly the repressive measures of the Chinese government against Tibetans, Christians and other faiths for practicing their religious beliefs and also to share this appeal with your parishes, synagogues, temples, mosques and places of worship.

Urgent action is required now to reverse these authoritarian policies that keep Tibetans and other religious minorities locked in a state of fear and tyranny.

We look forward to hearing your voice standing with those who seek to pray freely today in Tibet and China.


Dermod Travis

Executive Director

For additional information on the situation at the Kirti monastery, visit:

For additional information on China's human rights record, visit:

China Rejects US Group's Report on Religious Freedom

US Says China Backsliding on Human Rights

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