January 18, 2005
On the eve of Paul Martin’s first visit to China as Prime Minister of Canada, the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) is urging the PM to raise the issue of Tibet with the Chinese leadership and more specifically to encourage China to undertake concrete measures so that the present dialogue process between representatives of the Dalai Lama and China will lead to a negotiated resolution of the Tibetan issue.
The Dalai Lama's envoys have met Chinese leaders three times in the last three years, most recently in September 2004. The Dalai Lama has conceded Tibet’s right to independence by seeking genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People's Republic of China. However the issue of Tibet remains far from resolved as reports confirmed the continual denial of fundamental rights to Tibetans in occupied Tibet. In Canada, a majority of parliamentarians (159 of 308) have signed a letter in support of the "Tibet-China Negotiation Campaign." The campaign and letter requests the Prime Minister to play the role of honest broker in the process towards meaningful negotiations on the issue of Tibet. Motions supporting Tibet negotiations were also recently passed at both the Senate and the Human Rights subcommittee of the House of Commons in December 2004.
"During the Dalai Lama’s visit to Canada last year, a clear message of support for Tibet was sent by the Canadian Parliament and Canadian public”, says Tenzin Dargyal, National Coordinator of the CTC National Office. “It is our sincerest hopes that the Prime Minister will use the unique opportunity of his first visit to China to build on the goodwill and support conveyed by Canadians for the peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet”. In April 2004, Paul Martin became the first sitting Prime Minister of Canada to meet with the Dalai Lama. They did discuss human rights in Tibet. The Dalai Lama also requested Mr. Martin to continue discussions of human rights with China and felt that Canada might be able to bring Tibet and China together.