DHARAMSHALA, March 12: The 54th Tibetan National Uprising Day was marked in Canada with rallies and protests outside Chinese diplomatic offices in the capital Ottawa and other cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.
In Toronto hundreds of marchers carried 99 coffins draped in Tibetan national flags to pay homage and in memory of all Tibetans, inside and outside Tibet, who have set themselves on fire protesting China’s rule.
The rally began from China’s Consulate office and made its way to the Dandus Square in the centre of downtown Toronto.
Prominent Canadian leaders and Tibet supporters, including Consiglio Di Nino, former Senator and Chair of Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, Wanye Marston and Peggy Nash, both members of parliament, Cheri Dinovo, provincial member of parliament, and Green Party representative Elizebath May, addressed the gathering.
The speakers expressed their support for the Tibetan people’s demands for freedom and for respect of fundamental human rights in Tibet.
Peggy Nash, in a statement on her official website, pledged her continued support for the Tibetan people.
“Fifty-four years ago on this date several thousand Tibetans staged an uprising against the People’s Republic of China. Fifty-four years later, Tibetans are still courageously protesting for freedom and basic human rights,” Nash said.
“I am inspired by the resolve, courage and activism of Tibetans in Toronto. I will continue to call on the government to urge China to address the Tibetan peoples legitimate grievances and respond to their demands for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.”
March 10 protests were also carried out in front of the Chinese Embassy in the Canadian capital city Ottawa and in Vancouver and Calgary.
Last month, the head of the exile Tibetan administration, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay urged Canada to send its newly instated Ambassador for Religious Freedom to Tibet, where 107 Tibetans, including several monks and nuns have self-immolated.
Sikyong Sangay, on a visit to Canada, said the rising number of self-immolations stems from the repression of political and religious freedoms, and crackdowns on other forms of protest.
“I would really like to see, and request, that the ambassador of religious freedom visit Tibet. Because religious freedom is very much at the core of self-immolation – as well as other issues – in Tibet,” Dr Sangay told reporters. “And now, the office is established, there’s an ambassador. If he could go to Tibet and investigate the situation, that would be a welcome gesture.”
Andrew Bennett, a former civil servant, was appointed the ambassador of the Office of Religious Freedom, created earlier this month to promote freedom of worship around the world
“The cause of self-immolation is clear: political repression, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction, cultural assimilation and denial of religious freedom. It’s very clear. And occupation is the main cause,” the de facto Tibetan prime minister said.