By Tenzin Dharpo
The fake letter widely circulated on social media claiming to be sent from the PMO.
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 25: Canadian Tibetan groups have expressed concerns over the use of a fake congratulatory letter that was claimed to be sent by Prime Minister Justine Trudeau’s office for the newly formed pro-Beijing group, Tibetan Association of Canada.
The Beijing leaning group circulated a letter dated April 17 claiming to be from the Canadian PMO on social media before its inauguration gala last week. Provincial Ontario Progressive Conservative Vincent Ke and Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis attended the event.
However, the letter was deemed fake by the Prime Minister’s Office. Matt Pascuzzo, press secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office said, “A letter of greeting was not sent by the Prime Minister to the Tibetan Association of Canada. Our office is looking into this matter further.”
A joint statement from five Tibetan organizations in Canada expressed dismay over the crude incident. It said, “The Tibetan communities in Canada are appalled that a fake letter of support from the Prime Minister of Canada is being used to mislead Canadians, and have urged all Canadians, especially leaders at federal, provincial, and local levels, to be aware of this organization’s true purpose.”
The coalition also expressed reservation over the group that claimed to represent Canadian Tibetans saying that the new group is strongly supported by the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, intent on dividing the Tibetan community in Canada and misleading Canadians into thinking that this new group actually represents Tibetans in Canada.
“Even more troubling are the claims made by the president of the new group stating that Tibet now enjoys freedom of religion, economic development, ecological and environmental preservation, and improvement of Tibetans’ livelihood,” the statement further said.
Dorjee Tenzin, the president of the newly formed Tibetan Association of Canada, said at the inaugural event that Tibet is part of China and that it now enjoys freedom of religion, economic development, ecological and environmental preservation, and improvement of Tibetans’ livelihood.
The claims however, fall short of independent assessments by global civil society groups and international community. Freedom House and Human Rights Watch in their report point to ever-shrinking space for basic human rights including religious freedom among others inside occupied Tibet.
The new group which many say is another propaganda arm of Beijing is funded and supported by Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations (CTCCO), which has strong links with the Chinese consulate in Canada, according to a Toronto-based Chinese website, 51.CA. Two days after its inaugural gala, the CTCCO announced that the Tibetan Association of Canada had officially joined their ranks.