Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters to hold rally in Ottawa to ask Canada to play an active role towards the realization of meaningful negotiations on the Tibetan issue
Ottawa, March 10, 2006 - Joined by their Canadian supporters, Tibetans from the communities of Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal will hold a peaceful rally today in Ottawa to mark the 47th anniversary of the Lhasa Uprising. The rally will start at Parliament Hill at 1 pm where statements by the Dalai Lama and Canadian Members of Parliament from all political parties will be shared with supporters. The rally will then proceed to the Embassy of China and conclude with prayers for the long life of the Dalai Lama.
In his annual March 10th statement, the Dalai Lama reiterated his longstanding commitment to the Middle Way approach of resolving the Tibetan issue. He stated that he is only seeking self-rule and genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people as guaranteed by the Chinese constitution. After a fifth round of talks last month between His envoys and China, the Dalai Lama reported that both sides were "able to clearly identify the areas of major differences" and "get a sense of the conditions necessary for resolving the differences". The envoys also relayed His Holiness' interest to visit China on a pilgrimage and see the changes and development in China. The Dalai Lama urged Chinese leadership to show "clear gestures" of support for the current dialogue process. "A positive atmosphere cannot be created by one side alone", said the Dalai Lama. "As an ancient Tibetan saying goes, one hand is not enough to create the sound of a clap".
Earlier this week, the governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Champa Phuntsok, acknowledged that talks between envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government had not yet resulted in any substantive negotiations. After last month's visit to China by envoys of the Dalai Lama, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson downplayed the visit by stating "overseas Tibetans were visiting their motherland in their private capacity". China's verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama, including calling him a separatist, continued throughout the last year.
"After five rounds of talks on Tibet since 2002 and China's continued denigration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Canada must significantly increase its pressure on China to peacefully resolve the Tibetan issue by starting real negotiations", said Tenzin Dargyal of the Canada Tibet Committee. "We are confident that the Tibetan issue will continue to enjoy strong parliamentary support in this new Government of Canada. Most importantly, we look forward to concrete actions to make meaningful negotiations on Tibet a central part of the new government's China policy."
Despite the talks on Tibet, there is no clear indication that China intends to reverse its oppression of the Tibetan people. Last month, three Buddhist nuns and two monks were arrested following calls for no Beijing Olympic Games until the Tibet issue is peacefully resolved. In its World Report 2006, Human Rights Watch reported that Chinese authorities are increasing re-education campaigns in Tibet centered on opposition to the Dalai Lama. In November 2005, several monks were detained and others expelled following a crackdown at Drepung monastery in Lhasa after monks expressed their resistance to the "patriotic education" campaign. For more than a decade, China has refused to allow access to the boy the Dalai Lama identified in 1995 as the new Panchen Lama.
Increased Canadian corporate presence in Tibet is also raising concerns for Tibetans and their supporters. Leading companies Bombardier, Nortel and Power Corporation are supplying technology for the
controversial Golmud-Lhasa Railway. Many Tibetans fear that this first railway from mainland China to Tibet represents the Beijing's final solution to wipe out what is left of the Tibetan identity and culture. Currently five Canadian junior mining firms are operating in Tibet. To date none of the Canadian businesses in Tibet have demonstrably shown that their projects are truly benefiting the Tibetan people.
"In the last months, the Chinese leadership has repeatedly stressed their commitment to the 'peaceful development' of China and building a 'harmonious society'. China must be held accountable for such public commitments," said Mr. Dargyal. "Through increased pressure and concrete actions, foreign governments like Canada's remain the key players to ensure that China respects its prominent commitments towards real peace in Tibet and China."
About March 10th
March 10 is symbolically recognized by Tibetans as the day their country was lost to China. On this day in 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up in Tibet's capital city Lhasa to protest a decade of illegal occupation by Communist Chinese forces. The People's Liberation Army crushed the revolt, killing thousands of Tibetans and driving His Holiness the Dalai Lama and more than one hundred thousand Tibetans from their homeland.
The entire March 10th statement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama can be found at www.tibet.net
For more information about the Canada Tibet Committee, please visit www.tibet.ca.
Tenzin Dargyal - National Coordinator
CTC National Office