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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Canadian Leader of the Opposition Voices Support on Occasion of 62nd Tibetan National Uprising Day

December 31, 2020

Ottawa, March 10th, 2021—Today marks 62 years since thousands of Tibetans were killed in March 1959 while peacefully expressing their devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and protesting the CCP’s illegal military invasion of Tibet. For Tibetans around the world, it is a day of reflection, commemoration, and renewed dedication to the cherished cause of Tibetan freedom and nationhood.

This year, the aspirations of Tibetans and Tibetan-Canadians have been echoed by prominent members of the Canadian Parliament, including the Hon. Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole of the Conservative Party of Canada. In a strong statement released by his office, O’Toole “[pays] tribute to and [prays] for the brave women and men who sacrificed their lives for the just cause of Tibet.” 

As Leader of the Conservative Party, O’Toole also notes his support for international freedom of religion and belief, which was a primary foreign policy focus for the former Conservative government in Canada. As O’Toole points out: “I take religious freedom very seriously. We must stand up for those who are oppressed and facing human rights abuses.”

Furthermore, he offers a direct critique of the Chinese government, stating that “Conservatives have urged China to stop the persecution of people who practice their religion or belief including Catholics, other Christians, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Falun Dafa practitioners, including [the] genocide of the Uyghur people.”

Finally, the Opposition Leader praises Canada’s values of tolerance and pluralism, while concluding that “Tibetans have persisted in their non-violent struggle for genuine autonomy, human rights, and justice for 62 years, without either malice or compromise. This is a great testament to the steadfastness and virtue that characterize His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.”

O’Toole’s statement demonstrates a growing cross-partisan consensus in Canada’s Parliament on the need for supporting Tibetan rights defenders and Tibet-related issues. It comes at a time when the human rights situation in Tibet has dramatically deteriorated with gross restrictions on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceable assembly, religion, and privacy. 

On the 62nd Tibetan National Uprising Day, now more than ever, the world is taking note of the existential threats posed by an expansionist China. The Canada Tibet Committee will continue to work with Parliamentary leaders to raise issues in the Tibetan interest and serve as a Canada-wide hub for advocates of the integral Tibetan cause.

By Sherap Therchin and Anvesh Jain


Anvesh is a Research Associate at the Canada Tibet Committee and a student of International Relations at the University of Toronto.

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