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Chan should Press China for Meeting with Child Prisoner

June 02, 2000

Montreal, June 2, 2000: The Tibetan community and its supporters in Canada today called upon Prime Minister Jean Chretien to insist that Chinese authorities allow Raymond Chan to visit Tibet's 11 year old child prisoner, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima. Chan who is Canada's Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific, is currently leading a delegation to China and Tibet.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Canada Tibet Committee also recommended that Canada place a moratorium on further Canadian government delegations to Tibet until the child is released from detention. Gendhun Choekyi Nyima has been held in incommunicado detention by Chinese authorities since May 17, 1995, just days after he was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, a politically significant designation. His whereabouts remain unknown.

The Canada Tibet Committee also expressed disappointment that the delegation, which includes two members of Parliament, made no effort to meet with Tibet supporters before leaving Canada.

"The government and parliamentarians have shown a distinct lack of concern for the sensitivities of the Tibetan diaspora living in Canada", said Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "We expected parliamentarians, in particular, to be more sympathetic to the views of Canadians".

In addition to visiting with Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, past recommendations for government delegations to Tibet have included that they be accompanied by an independent Tibetan translator and a non-governmental observer with an expertise in the Tibet situation. Advocates for human rights in Tibet say that sending showpiece delegations into such a restive area amounts to appeasement of Chinese policy in Tibet.

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For more information: Thubten Samdup, 514-867-6770 (cell)

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