Dhondup Lhadar (4th from right) and Tsewang Dhondup (7th from right) with members of RTYC Toronto and RTYC NY&NJ in Ottawa, Canada during the testimony.
DHARAMSHALA, January 31: A senior leader of the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro-independence group in exile, testified before a subcommittee on human rights of the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday.
Dhondup Lhadar, vice president of the Dharamshala based TYC, spoke on the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet in front of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Canadian House of Commons.
In the hearing that lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes, Lhadar was invited to speak on the issue of self-immolations and offer action recommendations to the Canadian parliament to help reduce or end the fiery protests.
The youth leader pointed out two main reasons for the ongoing wave of self-immolations, which has already witnessed 99 Tibetans set themselves on fire since 2009 protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
“First is the absolute rejection of China’s occupation by the Tibetan people and secondly to protest against China’s systematic and malicious attempts to slander our leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and eradicate Tibetan culture and race and destroy Tibet’s environment.”
Many of the Tibetan self-immolators have left last messages of absolute reverence to the Dalai Lama and called for the preservation of the Tibetan language and dignity. Many have chosen to carry out their protest in front of Chinese government offices while others have torched themselves near Chinese mining sites.
In his testimony, Lhadar noted that the invitation to stand before the committee in itself is “a clear indication of your support for Tibet and its people in their pursuit for freedom.”
“It also shows Canada's strength and courage to face China," the vice president of the largest Tibetan NGO said.
However, he pointed out that Canadian companies doing business with China "such as Continental Minerals, Lara Exploration, Eldorado Gold, Inter-Citic Minerals Inc., Sterling Group Ventures, Bombardier, Vancouver-based China Gold International Resources Corp ltd., and Nexen-CNOOC are indirectly funding Communist China's human rights abuses and it is undermining Tibet's unique culture, language, tradition and its fragile ecosystem."
Lhadar appealed to the Canadian government and the parliament to pay attention to the testaments of Tibetan self-immolators in order to understand their real aspirations and the actual situation inside Tibet.
He urged Canada to send an independent investigative team to Tibet and also pass a resolution in its parliament on the current situation inside Tibet aimed at putting pressure on the government of China to make sincere efforts to bring about positive changes for Tibet.
Last month, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird issued a statement
urging 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 had said.