October 19, 2006

Tibet: Canada Condemns Chinese Soldier Killing of Refugee

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay "strongly" condemned the killing of an unarmed Tibetan fleeing into Nepal and the wounding of another by Chinese troops

OTTAWA - Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay "strongly" condemned the killing of an unarmed Tibetan fleeing into Nepal and wounding of another by Chinese troops, captured on video.

"Canada strongly condemns this act of violence against unarmed civilians as an egregious violation of human rights. We have formally raised these concerns with the Chinese government," MacKay told the House of Commons.

"We have called upon the Chinese to conduct a full, independent investigation and punish those responsible, as well as release the detained Tibetan children immediately to their families," he said, citing China's obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

China's official Xinhua news agency admitted on Thursday last week that Chinese soldiers killed one person and injured another near Mount Everest, but said they were acting in self-defense. Xinhua said the soldiers tried to persuade the group to go back home "but the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers."

But a Romanian TV station on Saturday released a video that it said showed Chinese troops shooting the two unarmed Tibetan refugees as they fled. The two were among a group of around 70 Tibetans trying to flee into Nepal.

The video footage from Pro TV's website depicts a line of Tibetans walking through the snow on the Nangpa La Pass when a shot is heard and one person in the group falls to the ground. A narrator says the Romanian cameraman who witnessed the incident was one kilometer (0.6 miles) away from the Tibetans when the shooting occurred.

A US-based rights group, the International Campaign for Tibet, identified the person who died as 25-year-old Tibetan nun Kelsang Namtso. China has ruled Tibet since it sent in the military to "liberate" the Himalayan region in 1950.

International rights groups accuse the Chinese of ruling Tibet through repression and military intimidation.

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