DHARAMSHALA, December 15: Canada has blamed China for exacerbating tensions in Tibet with “increasingly punitive measures” in response to the ongoing wave of tragic self-immolations in the region.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird urged China to lift restrictions to Tibetan areas for diplomats and journalists while calling for “substantive and meaningful dialogue” between Tibetan and Chinese representatives.
“I am concerned about the escalating number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China and the increasingly punitive measures being taken in response, which further exacerbate tensions in the region,” Baird said Friday.
“Canada supports Tibetans’ freedoms of expression, assembly and association. That anyone should feel such an end is justified by these means is a striking testament to Tibetans’ deep yearning for greater religious, linguistic and cultural rights.”
95 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile since the spate of fiery protests began in 2009.
Thousands of Tibetans, including school students, have led anti-government rallies and street protests on a regular basis.
The Canadian foreign minister further encouraged China to give “full consideration to the traditions and culture of the Tibetan population in a manner that will help ease tensions” and called on Beijing to lift restrictions on access to the affected areas for the diplomats, media and other observers.
“We urge China to engage in substantive and meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives in working toward a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues that is acceptable to both sides,” the minister said.
Earlier this week, a Tibetan delegation led by the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro-independence group in exile met with prominent Canadian leaders urging them to take concrete actions on the crisis inside Tibet.
Dhondup Lhadar, vice president and Tenzin Chokey, general secretary of TYC met with Paul Hong, Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and held “in depth, frank, and open discussions” for almost an hour.
The TYC delegation also individually met with a host of Canadian MPs including David Sweet, Conservative Party of Canada and a member of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Trade and is also the Co-Chair of Parliamentary Friends of Tibet; Bernard Trottier, CPC; Wayne Marston, New Democratic Party and member of the sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Trade; Rob Anders; Joe Daniel, CPC; and Wladyslaw Lizon, CPC.
Chokey told Phayul that the Tibetan delegation was assured “significant constructive and moral support” for Tibet’s cause by the Canadian leaders, including tabling a resolution on Tibet in the Canadian Parliament and also pushing for a visit to Tibet by a Canadian delegation to assess the situation.
The TYC executive members from Dharamshala are on a month-long North America speaking tour which will end with the third preliminary Rangzen Conference scheduled to be held in New York from December 28-29.