March 31, 2008
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A3
Fax: (613) 941-6900
Dear Prime Minister,
Government of Canada's Response to Crackdown in Tibet
In recent days, the international media has been flooded with reports and images of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks, demonstrating peacefully against China’s oppression and subsequently being beaten and even killed by Chinese soldiers. Estimates by Tibetan sources indicate that as many as 140 Tibetans have died as a result of Chinese military action in Tibet.
The current crisis in Tibet is eerily similar to the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989, when Chinese leaders sent in the army to quell what was until then peaceful demonstrations and protests. The only difference is that the world's media was in Beijing at that time; while this time, China had expelled all independent observers and journalists from Tibetan areas during the first two weeks of the crisis.
It is clear that Canada has an obligation to act, and to act swiftly. The Canadian NGO Coalition on China call on our government to immediately, forcefully and consistently raise the serious human rights concerns regarding Tibet in connection with the upcoming Beijing Olympics. It is imperative that Canada, and the community of nations, make it unquestionably clear to the Chinese government that hosting the Olympics carries with it a very specific responsibility to uphold the full range of internationally-protected human rights.
Canada should also bring pressure to bear on the International Olympic Committee, insisting that the IOC engage directly with Chinese authorities about the crisis in Tibet and other mounting human rights concerns in China. The IOC's line that human rights are a political matter that would amount to an unjustified infringement on China's sovereignty is unacceptable and can no longer be sustained.
We are also calling upon Canada to support the lead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in offering his country as a potential host for dialogue and negotiations between the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama. Cognizant of our standing in the world community, Canada can, and should, play a proactive role in offering to co-partner this initiative with France.
It is time for the Government of Canada to stand up for the Tibetans, as well as other ethnic minorities within China, in support of their fundamental human rights to free association, freedom of expression, and freedom to define their own culture and identity.
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Rights & Democracy
Toronto Association for Democracy in China
Amnesty International Canada,
Canada Tibet Committee
Uyghur Canadian Association
Kenneth V. Georgetti
Canadian Labour Congress
Students for a Free Tibet (Canada)