Montreal, March 10, 2001: Today, as the Dalai Lama accused Beijing of stalling and hardening its position on Tibet, the Canada Tibet Committee has renewed its request to Prime Minister Jean Chretien to convene negotiations between the two parties. In February, 84 Canadian Members of Parliament, including 20 Liberals, wrote to the Prime Minister asking that he convene negotiations between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Government of China.
The Prime Minister has not responded to the request but did raise the issue with the Chinese leadership during last month's Team Canada visit to China. Premier Zhu Rongji told Chretien that Beijing was ready to negotiate with the Dalai Lama so long as he renounces Tibetan independence.
In his annual March 10th speech which commemorates the 1959 Lhasa Uprising, the Dalai Lama said he remains committed to a "middle-way approach" and seeks "autonomy" rather than independence for Tibet. He also disclosed details of this year's sudden new communication with authorities in Beijing:
"I reasoned with the Chinese leadership that through face-to-face meetings we would succeed in clarifying misunderstandings and overcoming distrust. I expressed the strong belief that once this is achieved then a mutually acceptable solution of the problem can be found without much difficulty.. So far the Chinese government is refusing to accept my delegation in spite of the fact that between 1979 and 1985 the Chinese government had accepted 6 Tibetan delegations from exile... this is a clear indication of a hardening attitude of Beijing and a lack of political will to resolve the Tibetan problem."
Canada Tibet Committee president, Thubten Samdup, said that Chretien should listen to his parliamentarians. " China's preconditions are a cop-out", Samdup added. " Chretien should call their bluff and offer to convene the negotiations on Canadian soil".
On March 10, 1959, the people of Lhasa revolted against the Chinese occupation of Tibet resulting in thousands of deaths and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India. Demonstrations commemorating the uprising will be held on Saturday March 10, 2001, in capitals around the world. For information regarding demonstrations in Ottawa and other Canadian cities, please see http://www.tibet.ca
- 30 -
Full text of Dalai Lama's March 10, 2001 statement:http://www.tibet.com
Sequence of Events leading up to March 10, 1959: http://www.tibet.ca
List of MPs who wrote to Chretien about convening negotiations:
(English) Thubten Samdup, 514-867-6770, email@example.com
(français) Tenzin Yangdon, 514- 483-4470 firstname.lastname@example.org