For Immediate Release
Canada Tibet Committee delivers letter to Charest on eve of China visit
(Montréal, Friday, 1 August 2008) – The Canada Tibet Committee today released a letter co-signed by 46 Tibetan-Québecers to Premier Jean Charest on the eve of his visit to China.
The letter calls on Premier Charest to raise China’s deplorable human rights record with Chinese officials during his visit and to outline the various approaches and benefits of federalism to a political state.
“While foreign relations are a federal prerogative, we believe that all Canadian leaders whether community, business or political have a duty to promote Canadian values at every opportunity when they travel abroad,” said CTC Executive Director Dermod Travis today. “We also believe that Premier Charest is uniquely placed to engage Chinese leaders on the benefits of federalism, particularly forms of asymmetrical federalism.”
Jean Charest will be visiting China from August 6 to 9 to discuss energy conservation and health with Chinese officials in the Shandong province and will then participate in Olympic events in Beijing.
A copy of the letter to Premier Charest follows:
On behalf of the Canada Tibet Committee and the undersigned Tibetan Quebecers, we urge you to raise the issue of China’s human rights record and its treatment of minorities, in the strongest of possible terms, during your upcoming visit to China this month.
We believe that the situation in Tibet is and remains tense, and, despite Chinese claims of ‘social harmony’, grave human rights abuses have and continue to occur. We invite your office to visit our web site at www.tibet.ca for the latest information in this regard.
Estimates indicate that over 200 Tibetans have died as a result of Chinese military action in Tibet, with additional reports of up to 6,000 Tibetans being detained by Chinese authorities, not including the 1,000 Tibetan monks who have been detained and relocated in advance of the Beijing Games. As the Chinese government continues to carry out its brutal crackdown and its policy to prevent independent observers and foreign journalists from freely visiting Tibetan areas, it is clear that Canadian leaders at all levels not only have an obligation to voice their concern on behalf of Canadians, but to act as well.
The focus of Canadian leaders must be on resolute diplomatic pressure to achieve a lasting solution to this crisis, leading to a credible and verifiable commitment by Chinese authorities to improve human rights throughout Tibet and China. As the newly appointed Chair of the Council of the Federation, you also have a unique opportunity to discuss the benefits of various approaches to a federal system with Chinese authorities. The proposed November 3rd Council mission with the Canada China Business Council affords an additional avenue to outline these benefits to your Chinese hosts.
Quebecers are significantly engaged on this critical issue. We can assure you that Tibetan Quebecers, CTC members and supporters, and the general public will be disappointed to see human rights take a backseat to trade relations yet again. Engagement without substance is meaningless.
Indeed, in a SES (Nanos Research) poll conducted for the CTC last summer, over two thirds of Quebecers said Canada should raise the issue of human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people with the Chinese government regardless of any impact it may have on trade. These results were comparable regardless of partisan affiliation or region. We can only imagine the impact of recent atrocities committed by Chinese authorities on this result.
We trust you will take the opportunity your trip to China affords to encourage Chinese authorities to end their brutal campaign of violence against the people of Tibet and to make a solid commitment to achieve a lasting solution to the Tibet question. In order to be effective, this commitment must include a definitive assurance by China to treat current talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama in a substantive and solution-oriented manner.
We eagerly anticipate your response detailing your intent and plan to communicate our concerns directly with Chinese officials and the commitment you will seek from China in upholding its promise to improve human rights and achieving a lasting diplomatic solution to the Tibet crisis.
cc: M. Mario Dumont
Madame Pauline Marois
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