JOINT LETTER FROM TIBET GROUPS IN CANADA
October 3, 2014
Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Re: Trade Mission to China
Dear Premier Wynne,
As representatives of Tibet organizations from Ontario and across Canada, we are writing today to express our disappointment at your decision to embark on a trade mission to China while human rights violations escalate inside Tibet and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are waging an inspirational struggle for democracy.
Since 2009, 132 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of China’s harsh policies, the most recent on September 17, 2014 in front of a police station in Kanlho Prefecture. Lhamo Tashi, a 22 year old student, called out for freedom as he burned and died. The continuing use of self-immolation as an expression of resistance is a passionate appeal to the international community for its support and solidarity. In such a context, how can we continue to promote “business as usual” with the Government of China?
We note with appreciation your commitment to raise human rights concerns with Chinese leaders during the trade mission. We know from past experience, however, that such expressions of displeasure from foreign visitors achieve little if anything. Chinese authorities recognize them for what they are – appeasement to the visitor’s domestic constituency. Instead, stronger action is needed if China is to understand that Canadians stand firmly behind their commitment to human rights and democratic freedoms.
It is our hope that you will reconsider the decision to move forward with a trade mission to China at this time. At the minimum, the mission should be delayed until the current unrest in Hong Kong is resolved. If not, the message Ontario sends to China will be the wrong one – that economic self-interest overrides Canadian values. As poll after poll has shown, this is not what your constituents believe. In fact, last year you declared that social justice would be your first priority as premier.
Tibetan-Canadians and the organizations that represent them, stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong. We support their non-violent expression of political opinion which is a shining example in today’s world. Unfortunately, non-violent struggles are easy to overlook and that is why we hope that you, as Premier of Ontario, will convey to Chinese leaders that social justice is indeed your first priority.
Carole Samdup, Executive Director, Canada Tibet Committee
Tsering Tsomo, President, Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario
Kunga Tsering, Chair, Canadian Friends of Tibet
Dawa Jongdong, Vice President, Tibetan Women’s Association of Ontario
Urgyen Badheytsang, National Director, Students for a Free Tibet Canada
cc: Philippe Couillard, Premier of Quebec; Robert W.J. Ghiz, Premier of Prince Edward Island; Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba