Call to help Tibetans puts pressure on Canada’s new religion envoy

February 26, 2013

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Categories: Old News

Source: The Globe and Mail

The political leader of exiled Tibetans is calling on Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom to investigate religious repression and suicide in his homeland, squeezing the week-old post into a tricky diplomatic position.

Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Central Tibetan Administration (also known as the Tibetan Government in Exile), made his plea while visiting Ottawa this week to seek support for Tibetan autonomy. He argued that growing business connections between Canada and China should not silence Canada’s concern for human rights in Tibet.

His challenge could prove an acid test for the Conservative government’s new Office of Religious Freedom: Any attempt to send such an envoy to China would be bound to cause offence.

Mr. Sangay’s visit comes amid a series of self-immolations in Tibet, where 106 people have set themselves on fire in the past three years to protest Chinese rule, the latest on Monday.

Mr. Sangay wants the Harper government to send its newly created ambassador for religious freedom, Andrew Bennett, to investigate.

“I would really like to see, and request, that the ambassador of religious freedom visit Tibet. Because religious freedom is very much at the core of self-immolation – as well as other issues – in Tibet,” Mr. Sangay said. “And now, the office is established, there’s an ambassador. If he could go to Tibet and investigate the situation, that would be a welcome gesture.”

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