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(From L-R) Canadian MPs Peggy Nash (New Democratic Party), Irwin Cotler (Liberal Party), David Sweet (Conservative Party)/File

DHARAMSHALA: Members of Parliament from three major political parties of Canada – the New Democratic Party, Liberal Party, and Conservative Party – have urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Tibet a priority for Canadian foreign policy in light of the recent rise in self-immolations there.

In their letter to Prime Minister Harper dated 9 April, MPs Peggy Nash (NDP), David Sweet (CPC) and Irwin Cotler (LPC) point out that the staggering increase in self-immolation protests in Tibet is a sign of deep discontent and crisis in the region. They call for Canada to work closely with the United States, the European Union and other governments to “bring about immediate and long-term improvements in the human rights situation in Tibet.”

The letter calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to: take a lead in initiating a multi-lateral forum on Tibet; send the Ambassador of the Office of Religious Freedom to investigate the reasons behind the rise in self-immolations in Tibet; and urge the Chinese government to allow independent monitors access to Tibet without media restrictions in the region.

Nash, MP for Parkdale—High Park, represents the largest population of Tibetans in Canada. “Many of my constituents have expressed concerns over the rising number of self-immolations in Tibet,” said Nash. “It is profoundly tragic that a peace loving people have taken such drastic measures to have their voices heard. I think it speaks to the desperation that many people in Tibet feel.”

The Tibetan association in Canada have expressed their deep gratitude to the three Canadian MPs for writing to Prime Minister Harper on the urgent situation in Tibet. “We value and appreciate your long-standing support for defending the basic human rights of the Tibetan people,” the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario said in their letter to the three MPs.

Since 2009, over 114 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans. 96 of them have died. Despite growing calls from the international community for China to resolve the grievances of Tibetans, the Chinese leadership has heightened its repressive policies in Tibet. (View CTA White Paper on Self-Immolations in Tibet)