By Tenzin Monlam
Randall Garrison, Canadian Member of Parliament/file
DHARAMSHALA, July 5: Canadian Member of Parliament Randall Garrison has approached Global Affairs Canada, department managing Canada’s humanitarian assistance, asking for a detailed information about efforts undertaken to defend Tibetan political prisoners.
The lawmaker has inquired about how the new guidelines have been applied in the cases of four Tibetan political prisoners - the 11th Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima; Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk; blogger Shokjang; and medical doctor Yeshe Choedron.
Seeking clarifications, Garrison wrote, “What efforts have been made by the Government of Canada to encourage investigative missions to China by relevant UN human rights procedures including the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearance, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in order to obtain updated information about the Panchen Lama case?”
The 11th Panchen Lama was only six years old when the Chinese government abducted the young lama in 1995. Even after 22 years in custody, the Chinese authorities have not provided any verifiable information or proof about him.
The last information on the missing lama was a statement by Norbu Dhondup, an official from the United Front Work Department of Tibet Autonomous Region, on September 6, 2015. Norbu had said that he (Panchen Lama) was being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed.
The request put forward by MP Garrison, the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, is in accordance with the new guidelines adopted by the government in December 2016, which lay out official policy for supporting human rights defenders around the world.
With its guidelines prioritized to support human rights defenders, the government has to respond to the MP’s written questions within 45 days.