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The 59th Tibetan National Uprising Day: Tibetan Canadians ask Canada to speak out for Tibet’s human rights defenders

March 10, 2018

In a letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Tibetans and their Canadian supporters 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 59th 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.

“Today, Tibetan-Canadians and their supporters across Canada are standing together in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet”, said Sherap Therchin, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. [3] “We deeply appreciate Canada's past commitment to taking action for Tibet, and Minister Freeland's interventions to press China for the release of Tashi Wangchuk and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama. We know from past experience that inquiries from foreign governments, such as Canada, can have a positive impact on the well-being of prisoners in Tibet."

The Government of Canada adopted guidelines on human rights defenders last year. [4] 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. # # # 




[1] March 10 backgrounder:

[2] Prisoner profiles are summarized below 

[3] List of rallies across Canada:  

[4] Voices at risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders, Global Affairs Canada,



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. No charges have been laid  and no trial is known to have taken place. China has admitted holding the Panchen Lama on numerous occasions including at the United Nations. Despite numerous requests from UN special procedures and world governments, including Canada, there is still no information as to the whereabouts or safety of the Panchen Lama.

  • TASHI WANGCHUK: a young Tibetan businessman and language rights advocate, was detained by police in his home area of Jyegudo, Kham, (Chinese: Yushu, Qinghai) following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language. The interview quoted him as saying that Tibet should have greater regional autonomy, especially in the issue of language, under Chinese governance. He was put on trial on January 4, 2018 and is awaiting a verdict. He could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. He is at risk of torture and other ill treatment. He has been charged with the very serious offence of “inciting separatism”, despite the fact that he has not advocated for Tibet’s independence.
  • 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”. No additional details are known. Sources report that Choedron has not been permitted visits from her children since her sentencing.
  • Lobsang Jamyang (Lomik) is a young Tibetan writer and monk. He was detained by Chinese authorities on April 17, 2015 while attending a class at his monastery, Kirti Monastery, in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (CH: Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province). He remained ‘disappeared’ for a year, and his whereabouts and any information concerning his detention, were not released to his family until May 9, 2016, when he was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison on charges of “leaking state secrets” and “engaging in separatist activities.”


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