By – Shyamal Sinha
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Chrystia Freeland called on China to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief to visit Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s missing Panchen Lama, has not been heard of since he was forcibly taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at the age of 6.
According to a report published by Canada Tibet Committee, Minister Freeland’s statements came in response to written questions submitted this June by Parliamentary Friends of Tibet Vice-Chair, Mr Randall Garrison, with regard to the efforts of the Canadian Government in applying its “Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders” in Tibet’s case. The Canadian Member of Parliament, Mr Garrison had inquired about the efforts made by Canadian representatives of the Government of China’s efforts to “provide legitimate evidence of the well-being and whereabouts of Tibet’s Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima” as well as the progress made by the Canadian Embassy in Beijing in obtaining permission for a Canadian diplomatic delegation to visit Tibet’s Panchen Lama in detention.
The Foreign Minister requested China to “provide information on the location of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents, the level of education that Gedhun completed, and the expected date for his return along with his parents.”
Minister Freeland reiterated Canada’s commitment to continue to have open discussions with China on the issues of human rights and rule of law in Tibet, and to “seek greater access to Tibet” for Canadian diplomats and delegations. Furthermore, she expressed concerns about the restrictions on the freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and association, and freedoms of religion and belief of ethnic Tibetans. “The Government of Canada will continue to urge the Government of China to respect the rights of ethnic Tibetans and to take steps to improve the human rights situation in Tibetan areas,” added Minister Freeland.
– Report filed by Human Rights and UN desk, DIIR