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Canadian Senate launches inquiry into situation of Tibetan human rights defenders

November 23, 2017

Ottawa, November 23, 2017 – A cross-party group of Canadian Senators today launched an inquiry into the cases of seven Tibetan human rights defenders currently imprisoned by Chinese authorities. [1]

The Senate inquiry complements recent efforts in the House of Commons to raise the profile of imprisoned Tibetan human rights defenders. [2]  

“These 7 cases are just the tip of the iceberg” said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee.  “They represent the hundreds of Tibetans who languish in China’s prisons simply because they spoke up for basic human rights.”  

In September 2017, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Chrystia Freeland responded to questions in the House of Commons saying, “We are closely monitoring the cases of Tibetan human rights defenders who have been detained. This includes seeking trial attendance where possible.” [3]

With respect to the long-standing case of Tibet’s Panchen Lama, taken by Chinese authorities as a 6 year-old child in 1995, Minister Freeland added that “Canada has called on China to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief to visit Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.” [4]

“We welcome the Minister’s commitment on behalf of Tibetan human rights defenders” Samdup said.  “But China has not responded to Canada’s efforts.  We need stronger action from our government including public statements when official Canadian delegations visit China.”

On December 10, 2016, Canada adopted new guidelines designed to support human rights defenders around the world. [5] As the first anniversary of the guidelines approaches, Canada must review how the guidelines can be more effectively applied in China.

The Senate Inquiry will be livestreamed at www.senparlvu.parl.gc.ca  on November 21 between 3:30-4:30pm (approx.). Thereafter a written transcript (Hansard) will be available at https://sencanada.ca/en/in-the-chamber/debates .

-end

[1] The participating Senators are: Dennis Patterson (CPC); Marilou McPhedran (ISG); Jim Munson (Lib); Thanh Hai Ngo (CPC); Senator Jonah Martin; Linda Frum (CPC); Raynell Andreychuk (CPC).

[2] For example, on November 20, 2017 MP Randall Garrison (NDP), vice-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, tabled a petition in the House of Commons raising concerns about Tibetan human rights defenders. https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1162

[3] Minister’s response to Order Paper Question Q-1076, found at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-200/hansard

[4] Minister’s response to Order Paper Question Q-1070, found at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-200/hansard

[5] Voices at Risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders, http://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/human_rights-droits_homme/rights_defenders_guide_defenseurs_droits.aspx?lang=eng

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