Canada Tibet Committee 2009 Annual Report
Each year, hundreds of you give generously both in time and money to support Tibet and the work of the Canada Tibet Committee.
Your gifts are critical to the Tibetan people and the CTC and we hope this report details how your generosity has been put to use.
Secret government documents
In January, the CTC released 68 pages of declassified Canadian government documents related to Tibet. Fifty years after many of them were first written, these documents made news globally in 2009.
Most notable among them was the 1950 legal opinion from the External Affairs department which concluded: “I am of the opinion that Tibet is, from the point of view of international law, qualified for recognition as an independent state.”
Or as another Canadian diplomat put it:
“…if China owned Tibet…there would certainly be no point in sending an army to conquer it.”
Much of the CTC’s work takes the form of raising issues with MPs, senators, premiers, and government officials.
It would be presumptuous of the CTC to take credit for all these results, but whether it’s political prisoners, human rights issues, preparing for the Prime Minister’s visit to China, environmental concerns or economic development within Tibet, the CTC advocated regularly with the Canadian government to advance the Tibet cause in 2009.
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
The CTC works with CIDA to foster a greater understanding of Tibet-related issues and to promote funding of relevant programs.
CIDA funded two initiatives through the World Bank, implemented by non-governmental organizations.
The first – Legal Aid for Tibetan Farmers/Herders – provides access to legal aid for migrant workers in Tibet. The program is run by the Tibet Yanglin Legal Aid Center.
The second project – Rights Protection for Minority Street Children – helps minority children in Urumqi, Xinjiang Province and is run by the Center for Protection of the Rights of Disadvantaged Citizens at Wuhan University and the Legal Aid Center at Xinjiang University.
As well, CIDA supports the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) efforts to promote and protect the rights of ethnic minorities living in Gannan and Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures by drawing on Canadian expertise and approaches to maintaining the social and cultural fabric of communities.
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT)
In 2009, the CTC communicated and worked regularly with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs on issues ranging from February’s UN Universal Periodic Review of China to political prisoners, human rights issues and logistics related to the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Canada.
We also called for a resumption of the Canada-China Human Rights Dialogue because the CTC believes that Canada must have an accountable and transparent human rights dialogue with the Chinese government to ensure that each government’s voice is heard and that mutual issues of concern are addressed in a meaningful and respectful manner.
National Lobby Day
On March 9, the CTC helped organize an unprecedented lobby day on Parliament Hill. Over 25 Tibetan-Canadians from across Quebec and Ontario met close to 40 MPs and senators to discuss Tibet issues on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising.
50th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising
On March 10th, the largest ever gathering of Tibetans took place on Parliament Hill to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. Canada’s five major political parties spoke in support of the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way approach.
Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China
In December, the Prime Minister visited China for the first time. In advance of his trip, the CTC undertook initiatives including a detailed letter to the Prime Minister outlining the issues we hoped he would raise with Chinese leaders, an op/ed for Canadian newspapers and, with our partners in the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, a second follow-up letter.
Tragically, over 1,000 Tibetans still languish in Chinese jails for alleged political activities during the 2008 uprising. Two were executed and the nephew of a Canadian was beaten to death by local police in 2009.
These cases are raised continuously by the CTC with our government and the Government of China.
Many of you also joined with us in writing the Prime Minister and your MP when we requested. We know your voice was heard.
In April, the CTC’s executive director Dermod Travis attended a CORIM luncheon in Montreal where Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada H.E. Lan Lijun spoke. Mr. Travis posed a question on human rights directly to the Ambassador.
In August, the CTC released an open letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao signed by close to 30 Canadian filmmakers on behalf of Dhondup Wangchen, the director of Leaving Fear Behind.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As the Chinese government opens Tibet up to more and more economic development, the CTC is taking the lead with Canadian corporations to ensure that the highest standards of corporate social responsibility are met in all their Chinese operations and that the Tibetan people are extended their right to free, prior and informed consent regarding projects in Tibet.
In 2009, these efforts took two directions: engaging with Canadian mining companies and our “When do you draw the line?” campaign which calls on members of the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) to adopt the UN’s Global Compact on corporate social responsibility.
The CTC mining campaign included four initiatives in 2009: a questionnaire that was sent to all Canadian mining corporations with operations in Tibet, attendance at Continental Minerals’ Annual General Meeting, the release of an internal Continental Minerals report revealing that photos of Victoria’s Butchart Gardens were used with local Tibetans to illustrate what a reclaimed mine allegedly site looks like, and our formal support of Bill C300.
In the fall, the CTC launched its “When do you draw the line campaign?” to coincide with the CCBC’s Business Forum. After the CTC’s registration as a participant at the Forum was rejected by the CCBC, we called on the Forum’s guest speaker, the Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade, to decline the invitation. Due to other commitments Mr. Day did not attend.
Finally, we helped change the terms of the debate regarding Canada’s relations with China. Despite overwhelming evidence that raising human rights issues with the Chinese government does not hurt trade, many corporate leaders continued with this misleading argument in advance of the Prime Minister’s visit to China. With other NGOs, the CTC undertook the necessary statistical analysis to prove that Canadian trade with China does not suffer when our government stands up for human rights.
2009 calendar highlights
Visit of Mr. Lobsang Nyandak, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, to Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
The City of Vancouver proclaimed March ‘Tibet Month’ at the request of the CTC Vancouver branch.
In May, the CTC assisted in coordinating an audience for Ernest Reid’s family with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City. Ernest’s wife, son and daughter met His Holiness to present a retrospective of photos that Ernest had taken in Tibet in 1947.
CTC executive director Dermod Travis spoke at the Canadian Archivists Conference in Calgary, Alberta.
September & October
The CTC provided logistical support to the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Canada, including as principal liaison with the Canadian government.
In its 20th year the CTC relocated the annual Montreal Tibetan Bazaar to its largest ever location.
This report only highlights part of our work. The CTC’s success in 2009 is due to the commitment of our volunteers, donors and supporters who continuously prove that they’re ready to support Tibet when events demand. We truly appreciate your commitment.
To learn more about any of the above activities, please visit www.tibet.ca
And please know that we treat your gifts with great care. Every dollar you generously give is stretched as far as we can for Tibet.