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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

The 58th Tibetan National Uprising Day: Tibetan Canadians ask Canada to speak out for Tibet’s human rights defenders

March 09, 2017

Hastags: #CanadaStandsWithTibet; #FreeTibetanHeroes

Ottawa, March 10, 2017 – In a letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Tibetans from across Canada are urging that she intervene with Chinese authorities on behalf of Tibetan human rights defenders currently languishing in China’s prisons.

The appeal coincides with rallies and vigils taking place across Canada today in commemoration of the 58th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising on March 10, 1959. [1]

The letter to Minister Freeland appeals for her direct intervention on behalf of four political prisoners: Gendhun Choekyi Nima; Shokjang; Yeshe Choedron; and Tashi Wangchuk. [2] These four are representative of the approximately 2000 documented cases of political prisoners in Tibet, many of whom linger in prison without charge or access to due process. Torture is widespread in prisons across Tibet. [3]

“Today, Tibetan-Canadians and their supporters across this country are standing together in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet”, said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. [4] “We are asking our Minister of Foreign Affairs to be very clear with her counterparts in China; human rights in Tibet matter to Canadians.”

The Government of Canada recently adopted new guidelines on human rights defenders. [5] The guidelines emphasize the central responsibility of Global Affairs Canada and its diplomatic missions abroad to gather accurate information about human rights defenders and to intervene on their behalf. # # #

Notes:

[1] March 10 backgrounder: http://tibet.ca/_media/PDF/en/March_10_The_Lhasa_Uprising.pdf

[2] Prisoner profiles are summarized below.

[3] See Human Rights Situation in Tibet: 2016 Annual report, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, http://tchrd.org/category/annual-reports/

[4] List of rallies across Canada: http://tibet.ca/en/activism/events/236

[5] Voices at risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders, Global Affairs Canada, http://international.gc.ca/world-monde/world_issues-enjeux-mondiaux/rights_defenders_guide_defenseurs_droits.aspx?lang=eng

PRISONER PROFILES

  • Gendhun Choekyi Nyima (the 11th Panchen Lama) (m): On May 15, 1995, the Dalai Lama named 6 year-old Gendhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama. On May 17, 1995, Chinese authorities abducted the child and his family. Despite numerous requests from UN special procedures and world governments, including Canada, China has not yet provided any information about the whereabouts or safety of the Panchen Lama. Request to Canada: urge permission for international observers to visit the Panchen Lama and his family.

  • Druklo / Shokjang (m): Tibetan writer and blogger Druklo, also known by his pen-name Shokjang, was detained on March 16, 2015 and on February 17, 2016 was sentenced to 3 years by the Malho Prefecture “Middle Court”. There have been no details given about the charges against him. Request to Canada: seek information about the charges against Shokjang.

  • Yeshe Choedron (f): The 57 year old retired medical doctor was detained in 2008 after protests broke out in Lhasa on March 14. On November 7, 2008, the Lhasa People’s Intermediate Court sentenced her to 15 years’ imprisonment for allegedly providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the state” to “the Dalai clique’s security department”. Request to Canada: urge permission for family visits.

  • Tashi Wangchuk (m): Tashi Wangchuk (m) aged 31, was detained on January 27, 2016, after he was featured in a New York Times video, “A Tibetan’s Journey for Justice”. In the video Wangchuk advocated on behalf of Tibetans who wished to learn and study in their mother tongue. Wangchuk was indicted in January 2017 on charges of “inciting separatism,” and now faces up to 15 years in prison. Request to Canada: seek permission to observe Tashi Wangchuk’s trial.

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