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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

International Human Rights Day: Canada Tibet Committee appeals to Prime Minister Harper

December 09, 2013

Media release

Contact: Carole Samdup:  514-512-4665

International Human Rights Day


Canada Tibet Committee appeals to Canadian Prime Minister

Montreal, December 10, 2013 – As the world marks International Human Rights Day, the human rights crisis in Tibet continues to escalate.  During the past year, forty-five Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of China’s harsh policies.  This brings the total number of self-immolations since 2009 to 124. [1]

In a letter sent this week (below), the Canada Tibet Committee has appealed directly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to increase efforts to hold China accountable for its actions in Tibet, particularly in light of China’s new role as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. 

“The continued use of self-immolation as an expression of resistance is a clear sign that China’s human rights record in Tibet has not improved,” said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. “The Canadian people expect their government to defend and promote international human rights in Tibet and the first step is placing that commitment front and centre in the Canada-China bilateral relationship.”

International Human Rights Day closely follows China’s second Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in October 2013.  During the Review, Canada urged China to stop the persecution of Tibetans, to respect religious freedom, and to end arbitrary detention. [2]

[1] The self-immolations are documented at

[2] The Canada Tibet Committee submitted recommendations to the Government of Canada for China’s UPR:


December 6, 2013

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

As Canadians prepare to commemorate International Human Rights Day, human rights violations continue unabated inside Tibet amidst a culture of impunity.  During the past year, forty-five Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against China’s harsh policies, bringing the total number since 2009 to 124. 

The most recent self-immolation took place just this week. Konchok Tseten, a 30-year-old father of two, reportedly died en route to hospital after police bundled him away from the site of his self-immolation in Ngaba County, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.  Tseten’s wife and other family members, who were detained after the event, have not been seen since. 

The continuing use of self-immolation as an expression of resistance provides us with irrefutable evidence that Tibetans are suffering under China’s rule.  Disappearances, discrimination, detention, imprisonment, torture and extrajudicial killing are every day occurrences. The current number of known political prisoners in Tibet today is estimated to be as high 1,204. This year alone, more than 254 Tibetans were imprisoned while no less than twenty-two Tibetans are serving life sentences.  On January 31, 2013 Lobsang Kunchok and Dolma Kyab were sentenced to death after being accused of complicity in a self-immolation incident.

 The past year has also witnessed an escalation in violations of religious freedom.  On July 6, 2013, security forces opened fire on a peaceful gathering of Tibetans who were celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday.  On November 1, 2013, Tibet’s Party Chief Chen Quanguo, published an article in Qiushi, the journal of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, suggesting that the state should seek to "separate Tibetan Buddhism from the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and separate the fourteenth Dalai Lama from the title of Dalai Lama.."  Such ideas do not respect the human rights of Tibetans and they risk exacerbating an already tense situation.


 On September 28, 2013, in the run up to China’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, Chinese security forces cracked down heavily on Tibetans in Driru County (Central Tibet), arresting seventeen who refused to raise the Chinese national flags on their rooftops. A few days later on October 6, 2013, security forces shot and wounded at least sixty Tibetans who were demanding the release of a villager who had led the protests. Two days later, security forces shot four Tibetans dead and at least fifty more were injured.  The stand-off continues as I write to you today.

Prime Minister, these are only a few examples of the continuing onslaught against basic human rights in Tibet.  The Canada Tibet Committee urges you to work with like-minded governments in an effort to increase pressure on the Government of China to respect human rights particularly as China assumes its role as a new member of the UN Human Rights Council.  Specifically, we make the following recommendations for Canadian action:


·         Appeal to Chinese authorities to commute the death sentences of Lobsang Kunchok and Dolma Kyab as did British Foreign Secretary William Hague in September 2013 who  petitioned for leniency in the case of Dolma Kyab and urged that a re-trial take place under international standards of procedure;

·         Urge Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom to support efforts to monitor and document examples of religious persecution in Tibet as the basis for a broader policy debate about the management of religious affairs in Tibet within its bilateral relationship with Chinese counterparts;

·         Adopt a policy of “do no harm” in the exercise of Canada’s commercial relationship with China, by refraining from activities that might have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights by Tibetans in Tibet;

·         Encourage China to re-engage negotiations with representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in accordance with the principles laid out in the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People (2008) and its addendum (2010).


Canada has a proud history of human rights promotion around the world. As we mark International Human Rights Day 2013, Canadian support for human rights in Tibet is needed more than ever before.  I urge you to act decisively and consistently so that the ultimate sacrifice being made by so many Tibetans, is not made in vain.



Carole Samdup

Executive Director

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