Montreal, November 26,1999: The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) expressed disappointment at Canada's announcement today that it had reached an agreement regarding terms for China's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The agreement contained no benchmarks for improvements in human rights in Tibet and China.
The WTO announcement by Minister of Trade Pierre Pettigrew comes only a few weeks after a Canadian government delegation visited Tibet as part of the dialogue process. The delegation failed to obtain any information at all regarding the safety and whereabouts of the 10-year-old Panchen Lama who has been held in detention by Chinese authorities for almost 5 years.
"China now understands that it can violate human rights with impunity, as long as it opens markets for export-dependent governments such as Canada." said Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "The Chinese government knows that Canada is not serious about human rights."
Tibetans claim that China's WTO accession will make a bad situation worse. Tibet has been under Chinese military control since 1950 and its economy is tightly managed by Chinese authorities. Human rights organisations have reported that Tibetans suffer systematic discrimination in crucial areas such as access to education and training as well as to business facilitation programmes. They are excluded from crucial decision-making processes which govern the development of their economy and which will effect their environment and communities into the next millennium.
Responding to government claims that increased economic development will lead to improvements in rights, Samdup noted that history has shown that there is no automatic link between the two.
"In an occupied country, the opposite is often true" economic development quickly creates a two-track system based on race" Samdup said. "If western governments want us to believe their human rights rhetoric, then it's time they stood up and did something about it".
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For more information:
In Montreal: Thubten Samdup (514) 867-6770
At the WTO Ministerial in Seattle: Carole Samdup (cell) (206) 755-2931
The Canada Tibet Committee is a non-profit organisation, with branch offices across Canada. Established in 1987, the CTC works to increase awareness of the current situation in Tibet and advocates in support of improved human rights for the Tibetan people.