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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?"

Statements by Canadian Members of Parliament

March 16, 2009

    Mr. Speaker, the current economic challenges will also produce realignments with respect to global expectations.
    This week the world's attention will turn to the situation of Tibet and the 50th anniversary of the national uprising within China. The 50 year pursuit of real autonomy and human rights that the Dalai Lama terms a two-way solution within a united China is being marked around the world this week.
    We have with us today a number of prominent Tibetan Canadians who are here to remind us, as parliamentarians, of the contribution we now need to make to this decades long impasse.
    Canada because of our traditions of peaceful persistence and innovation. Canada because of our successful form of federalism that gives us the insight we can recommend to China, as we have elsewhere, in terms of accommodation and protection of minorities. Canada because of our tradition of human rights ensures we will not ignore where they are at risk.
    Just as Tibetan Canadian families here in Canada cancelled their new year's celebration to protest the dire situation, including arrests in Tibet, so too we must ask ourselves urgent questions. If not by the peaceful measures of the Dalai Lama, then how?
    Madam Speaker, today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising. Fifty years ago, 300,000 Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama's palace to protect their young leader from the Chinese military. That dedication to the Dalai Lama is today reflected not only here in Canada but worldwide.
    The NDP reaffirms its commitment to supporting human rights in China, including the collective self-determination rights of the people of Tibet. The government of China must respect freedom of religion, speech and assembly for Tibetans. I would remind the House that on February 15, 2007, the House of Commons gave unanimous consent to a motion by NDP MP Peggy Nash. It said:
    That, in the opinion of the House, the government should urge the government of the People's Republic of China and representatives of Tibet's government in exile, notwithstanding their differences on Tibet's historical relationship with China, to continue their dialogue in a forward looking manner that will lead to pragmatic solutions that respect the Chinese constitutional framework, the territorial integrity of China and fulfill the aspirations of the Tibetan people for a unified and genuinely autonomous Tibet
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the uprising of the Tibetan people in Lhasa. This was followed by a series of Chinese repressive measures, forcing the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibetans, to seek exile in India. According to the Tibetan government in exile, these measures resulted in the deaths of 87,000 Tibetans who held to their convictions and their pride in their people.
    So it has been 50 years since Tibet tried unsuccessfully to gain some measure of autonomy. The cultural fabric of the Roof of the World is weakening. Tibet's history books have been rewritten and the Tibetan language is no longer taught in secondary schools.
    It is time to adopt a comprehensive approach that takes into account the interests of all parties involved, rather than taking one side or the other, so that Tibet may gain real autonomy and the commemoration of these events will not be in vain.
    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government is committed to promoting Canada's core values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.
    Canada remains seriously concerned with the human rights situation in Tibet, including the treatment of Tibetans who continue to see violations of their freedom of expression, association and spiritual belief, as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement.
    This government raises these concerns with the Chinese government at every appropriate opportunity, calling on it to take effective action to respect, protect and promote the human rights of the ethnic minority groups, including Tibetans.
    We urge the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives to work toward a solution of outstanding issues and establish a true and lasting peace acceptable to all parties.
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