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21 Canadian MPs and Senator call for Canada’s support to release the 11th Panchen Lama and his family

May 21, 2020

Ottawa, May 21, 2020 – To mark the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of 11th Panchen Lama – Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, 21 Members of Parliament and Senator from Canada signed a letter calling for Canada’s support for the immediate release of Panchen Lama and his entire family, and for an independent fact-finding mission to assess the human rights violations perpetrated against Tibetans in Tibet and other regions in China.

The letter highlights China's interference in the sacred Buddhist traditions of recognizing the reincarnation of lamas and how it sets a dangerous precedent for possible interference in the process of identifying the reincarnations of future Dalai Lamas.

Since 1995, several governments, including Canadian governments, have requested permission to visit the Panchen Lama in order to verify his safety and well-being. Efforts by human rights organizations including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have been unsuccessful.

In May 2018, a group of Tibetan representatives appointed by China visited Ottawa and testified before Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. During the testimony, Canadian MP Garnett Genuis asked the delegates on whereabouts of Panchen Lama and his family. The delegates responded that Panchen Lama is living a private life and does not wish to be disturbed. 

“It’s high time for the international community to take a real, strong stand against the human rights violations China commit on regular basis in Tibet, East Turkistan and other parts of China”, said Sherap Therchin, Executive Director of Canada Tibet Committee. “the pattern of China interfering in human rights development internationally that we see today started with Tibet about 60 years ago.”

Tibet's Panchen Lama was just six years old when Chinese authorities abducted him. Since then, neither he nor his family has been seen or heard.

List of parliamentarians who signed/endorsed the letter:

  1. MP Randall Garrison, National Democratic Party
  2. MP Paul Manly, Green Party of Canada
  3. MP Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada
  4. MP Jenica Atwin G,reen Party of Canada
  5. MP Garnett Genuis, Conservative Party of Canada
  6. MP Ziad Aboultaif, Conservative Party of Canada
  7. MP Colin Carrie, Conservative Party of Canada
  8. MP Kerry Diotte, Conservative Party of Canada
  9. MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Conservative Party of Canada
  10. MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative Party of Canada
  11. MP Marty Morantz, Conservative Party of Canada
  12. MP Scott Reid, Conservative Party of Canada
  13. MP Nelly Shin, Conservative Party of Canada
  14. MP Karen Vecchio, Conservative Party of Canada
  15. MP Arnold Viersen, Conservative Party of Canada
  16. MP Cathay Wagantall, Conservative Party of Canada
  17. MP Arif Virani, Liberal Party of Canada
  18. MP James Maloney, Liberal Party of Canada
  19. MP Sven Spengemann, Liberal Party of Canada
  20. MP Larry Bagnell, Liberal Party of Canada
  21. Senator Mobina Jaffer

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