Ottawa: The highlight pertaining to Sikyong Penpa Tsering’s visit to Canada was most assuredly his maiden appearance before the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development where he testified on the crisis of Tibet including the situation concerning Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama who is missing for the last 27 years. Through his testimonial, Sikyong was able to garner the committee’s support to unanimously adopt a resolution supporting the peaceful resolution of Tibet.
Prior to his testimony, Sikyong was formally introduced and welcomed to the House by MP Arif Virani who prompted the House to take up the cause of Tibetan struggle for basic human rights.
In his testimonial before the committee on Thursday 5 May, Sikyong put forth a strong analysis of situation concerning Tibet including the westerners’ need to study Tibet’s history from sources other than the narrative of China and urged Canadian policymakers to come forward with more legislation and sanctions on China.
Highlighting the dire political and human rights situation inside Tibet under the Chinese government, Sikyong expressed concern over the repression of the Tibetan language and culture. In his answer to MP Garnett Genuis’s question on the issue of language repression, Sikyong highlighted the degradation of Tibetan language under the Chinese rule from Mao Zedong’s leadership to Xi Jinping’s. He said Tibetan language under the current Xi government leaves little to no freedom.
“When Xi Jinping came into power, the little freedom for language enjoyed by the Tibetans was demolished as he imposed One China Policy under which, there was no room for the practice of language and culture other than the Chinese language and culture. The schools and institutions have been forced to replace the medium of instruction from Tibetan to Chinese” added Sikyong.
In his testimonial regarding the case of Panchen Lama, Sikyong Penpa Tsering remarked the Chinese made a significant tactical error by not recognising Gedun Choeky Nyima as the Panchen Lama who was recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He said, “If China had done that they would have Gedun Choekyi Nyima under control as of today as opposed to the boy selected by themselves and not recognised by the Tibetans”. He added that concealing the truth of the whereabouts and well-being of 11th Panchen Lama was China’s way of meddling with the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama since it involves reciprocal recognition between Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.
Addressing the issue concerning resumption of the Sino-Tibet dialogue, Sikyong alleged ‘no traction from the Chinese counterparts’ as the reason for the ensuing impasse in the dialogue despite numerous attempts to approach the Chinese counterparts.
“Under President Xi, things look dire that even hope for negotiations in the immediate future seems remote,” he said and urged the committee to pass a motion on the resumption of Sino-Tibet dialogue with unanimous consent.
Accompanying Sikyong in his testimonial was Zeekyab Rinpoche, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (seat of Panchen Lama) who made some essential statements on the case of Gendun Choekyi Nyima and also presented a five-point appeal to the committee hoping they consider the appeals positively.
The Five-Point Appeal presented by Zeekyab Rinpoche is as follows:
- To pass a motion urging the Canadian government to mandate the ambassador to China, to meet with the 11th Panchen Lama and ascertain his whereabouts and wellbeing.
- To honour the 11th Panchen Lama with an award recognising him as a victim of enforced disappearance for 27 years and as someone who has been denied his human rights, religious freedom, rights of a child and other fundamental rights of movement, residency and action.
- In order to enable his early release and as a way to draw attention to his situation, the Canadian parliament is appealed to observe the birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama.
- To actively call for the release of Jadrel Rinpoche, a lama of Tashi Lhunpo monastery who was the head of the search committee for the 11th Panchen Lama as well as many other Tibetan political prisoners. On account of the dire situation in Tibet, Tibetans have been resorting to acts of self-immolations the latest being a 25-year-old Tibetan singer Tsewang Norbu on 25 February and 81-year-old Taphun on 27 March this year. At least 157 Tibetans have sacrificed their most cherished lives in order to draw the attention of the international community including the United Nations to the critical situation in Tibet. Therefore, the Canadian government is urged to respond positively to their pleas.
- The aspiration of Tibetans in Tibet is for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be able to return to Tibet at the earliest. The Canadian government is therefore appealed to consider taking a concrete initiative to support His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to enable the resolution of Sino-Tibet conflict through the mutually beneficial Middle Way Approach.