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37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION

Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 5, 2004




¹ 1530
V         The Chair (Hon. David Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast, Lib.))
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup (President, Canada-Tibet Committee)

¹ 1535
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk of the Subcommittee (Mr. Stephen Knowles)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, CPC)
V         The Chair
V         Professor Brian J. Given (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University)

¹ 1540

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Carole Channer (China Country Coordinator, Amnesty International (Canada))

¹ 1550

¹ 1555

º 1600
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Carole Channer
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Iris Almeida (Director of Policy, Programmes and Planning, International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development)

º 1605
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Iris Almeida

º 1610
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk
V         Ms. Iris Almeida
V         The Clerk
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Iris Almeida

º 1615
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Carole Samdup (Program Officer, International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai

º 1620
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup

º 1625
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC)
V         Ms. Carole Samdup

º 1630
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ)
V         Ms. Iris Almeida

º 1635

º 1640
V         The Chair
V         Prof. Brian J. Given
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Ms. Iris Almeida
V         The Chair

º 1645
V         Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.)
V         Ms. Iris Almeida
V         Ms. Carole Samdup

º 1650
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Ms. Carole Samdup
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos (Ahuntsic, Lib.)
V         Mrs. Carole Channer

º 1655
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         Ms. Iris Almeida
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         Prof. Brian J. Given
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos

» 1700
V         Prof. Brian J. Given
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Ms. Iris Almeida

» 1705
V         Ms. Carole Samdup
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup

» 1710
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Carole Samdup
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Mr. Thubten Samdup
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Iris Almeida

» 1715
V         Mrs. Carole Channer
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Mrs. Carole Channer
V         The Chair
V         Prof. Brian J. Given
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day

» 1720
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         The Clerk
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         Mr. Deepak Obhrai
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau

» 1725
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Eleni Bakopanos
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Clerk

» 1730
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         Mr. Stockwell Day
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Patry
V         The Chair










CANADA

Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade


NUMBER 003 
l
3rd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1530)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Hon. David Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast, Lib.)): Order, please.

    Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have a quorum.

    We are most honoured that a number of very distinguished people have come to speak to us today about human rights in China, with particular reference to Tibet.

    I think we've agreed that the first speaker will be Thubten Samdup, who's the president, founder, and national president of the Canada Tibet Committee. I believe we've agreed that 10 minutes would be sufficient. I know it's very hard to condense all you know into such a brief time.

    We welcome Professor Brian Given, who is currently writing a book about the Tibetan Canadian community.

[Translation]

    He has done, I believe, 20 years of research on issues involving Tibet. Thank you for coming, colleague. Carole Channer will then take the floor.

[English]

    Carole Channer has held the voluntary position of China country coordinator with the Canadian section of Amnesty International for 20 years. Congratulations, félicitations, Carole. Prior to your retirement in 2003, you were a member of the mathematics department of Vanier College in Montreal.

    Carole Samdup is the program officer for the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Her work is in economic and social affairs and globalization.

    Iris Almeida is the director of policy, programs and planning at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development,

[Translation]

    for the Centre international des droits de la personne et du développement démocratique, also known as Rights and Democracy. Thank you for being with us here today, and welcome.

    Mr. Samdup, you have the floor.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Thubten Samdup (President, Canada-Tibet Committee): Mr. Chair, good afternoon.

    Thank you for arranging this hearing for us. I must apologize. Right after His Holiness' visit to Ottawa, I had to go down to Toronto. I just took the train up this morning, so I don't really have anything prepared.

    But there are a few things I would like to say. I've seen some of you who have attended His Holiness' visit here and have met with him. My other friends here will speak in detail about what's happening, the human rights violations in Tibet.

    What I really want to get to is that Tibet is going through a very, very difficult period. Unlike many people seem to think, we don't have the luxury of waiting around 10, 15, 20 years. Something has to happen now, and fast. I say this, choosing my words very carefully, because now more and more I find young Tibetans getting very frustrated and angry, because there is no result from the Dalai Lama's path of non-violence. It has been 46 years.

    From the amount of love and respect that I saw given by the Canadian public on this visit, to me it was very obvious what Canadians want this government to do. I have worked with this Canada Tibet Committee since the start in 1987. The reason I've worked very hard on this is because I also believe that His Holiness presents an alternative to the world, that violence is not the way to achieve one's goals. There's another way. As he always says, violence only breeds violence; the only way to stop the cycle of violence is through non-violence. Obviously, I'm sure everybody in this room agrees with that.

    Up to now, we haven't had any concrete support, tangible support. All we get is lip support from all governments of the world. This time around, when we launched this campaign, we expected the Canadian government to do more. It took a lot of work, but we worked really hard. As I said before, we have 165 members of Parliament who have signed on, urging the Prime Minister not only to meet with His Holiness, but to deliver something tangible while he's living.

    The human rights abuses, the environmental degradation, religious persecution, all this relates, too, because we haven't come to some sort of a peaceful resolution to the problem in Tibet. His Holiness, for your information, is on the record saying that he is not seeking independence. He is asking for genuine autonomy for his people, where the religion and culture can be preserved. I personally don't think that's too much to ask.

    If he was the type of leader who was very hard-core, who asked for just independence and nothing else, then it might be difficult. His request is so simple. As he says, there are three things that he tries to promote when he travels: number one, the promotion of human value; number two, religious harmony; and number three only, Tibet. After everything this man has given, the contributions he has made to this world, I think what he's asking in return is not too much.

    I'd like to take this opportunity...because this time around I think the outpouring of sympathy and support from the Canadian public was just incredible. We are going to continue to work on that and build on that support. I would like to request that this committee perhaps for the next hearing have the political prisoner, Ngawang Sangdrol. We would like to have her over here to give her statement, because she recently escaped from Tibet.

    Again, in conclusion, what I would like to say is I think it's very important in the next five, ten years, that something has to happen, or there's going to be nothing left in Tibet to be saved. Thank you.

¹  +-(1535)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much for that. Would she be available next Wednesday if we were sitting next Wednesday?

+-

    Mr. Thubten Samdup: Next Wednesday? We could try. I'll let you know.

+-

    The Chair: Do we need a motion for that, Mr. Clerk?

+-

    The Clerk of the Subcommittee (Mr. Stephen Knowles): Mr. Chairman, as this is part of the continuing study, I would presume that would be sufficient. If you would like to have a motion, you certainly could.

+-

    The Chair: Okay, thank you. We can probably see at the end.

    We thought we'd go through all the speakers and then have the questions. Is that okay?

+-

    Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, CPC): If it were going to be a motion, I would have put a motion. But that's fine. It's part of the study, so that's okay.

+-

    The Chair: Well, can we deal with that later on? We don't have full quorum yet.

    The next speaker is Professor Given.

+-

    Professor Brian J. Given (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University): Thank you very much for the invitation to speak to you.

    We have a popular discourse in Canada on human rights and civil society that encompasses laudable themes of compassion and tolerance. Beyond our borders we believe we are peacemakers, yet our government has effectively abandoned human rights as a significant factor when dealing with regimes that both violate human rights and promise extensive trade. Under the former administration, human rights became another commodity, something to be traded off--in the case of Tibet, to China's hardliners.

    I recall a conversation with a senior DFAIT official after I had raised the issue of China's continued imprisonment of the six-year-old Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nima, who, along with his family, has not been seen now for six years. He's the world's youngest political prisoner. I made these comments at the DFAIT human rights consultation with NGOs prior to the Geneva meetings. The official was anxious to tell me that Canadian officials always raised the question of the Panchen Lama when they met with Chinese officials. She also told me these discussions never got anywhere. To quote her, “Dr. Given, they take a very strong position on that issue and refuse to discuss it”. She appeared surprised when I asked, “What do you do then?” and responded, “Well, we go on to discuss other issues”.

    Well, this just isn't good enough. If this is an example of how the bilateral dialogue is conducted, then it's hardly surprising it's been an abysmal failure, save, of course, for its success in promoting the trade interests of some of Canada's wealthiest and most well-connected citizens.

    We need to reconnect Canada's popular discourse on our role as international conciliator with government policy and DFAIT practice. We could start with Tibet. If we do that, we'll find we're connecting with emerging voices in China that value Tibetan culture and believe that the Tibetan question should be resolved by negotiations with the Dalai Lama while he's still living. They feel it would be disastrous if that is not done.

    Canada can deepen its relationship with China by acting as honest broker to help China solve what it sees as the Tibet problem while fulfilling our traditional role as peacemakers by helping the Dalai Lama and his democratically elected prime minister solve the China problem.

    At a global level, in a post-9/11 world, the Tibetans, led by the Dalai Lama, offer us a practical model for the peaceful settlement of differences, a courageous alternative to violent approaches backed by the effort and the blood of the Tibetan people.

    The Tibetans have placed us all in a difficult position by the ways they have struggled for over 50 years for the basic rights of Tibetans. We say we abhor violence, but perhaps we should examine what gets our attention. The choice is ours. What message do Canadians want to send through our government's actions to Tibetans and the international community?

    The Tibetan government-in-exile under the Dalai Lama's leadership has given us all we need to proceed. The Dalai Lama has made it very clear multiple times during this visit and previously that he seeks only internal autonomy and human rights protection for Tibetans. He asks essentially for that which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The majority of members of the House of Commons have asked the Prime Minister to offer Canada as an honest broker to host negotiations between the Government of China and the Dalai Lama and his representatives. They have in the past frequently expressed their concern that freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political freedoms, the right to live free of fear of political imprisonment and torture, and other basic rights have been expunged in Tibet under China.

    Some people wonder if the cause is lost because China is so effectively destroying the living culture of Tibet, but this is not so. Canada, with our friendship with China and long-standing commitment to human rights, is in a unique position to help save Tibetans. There isn't a lot of time.

    We need to make it clear to the Prime Minister that we expect action. Demonstrating that a peaceful movement can succeed in protecting human rights will do more for world peace than any violent war on terrorism. But our action must become effective. I'm concerned that there has been no improvement as a result of the bilateral dialogue, which seems to serve only to legitimize China's abuses of Tibetans.

    Several emerging issues are of particular concern. For example, China is using the war on terrorism as an excuse to crack down even further on dissent, and the label “terrorist” is a licence to drop even the pretence of due process of law.

    China is increasingly exploiting western development programs and funding to further entrench China's occupation of Tibet through the medium of externally funded projects such as the dam project at Barkham, where the local Tibetans are being evicted in support of Chinese industry.

    It's important to recognize that the situation in Tibet is getting worse, not better. There are countless violations of articles 18 and 19 of the UDHR, which guarantee freedom of conscience and expression. Hundreds of people have been tortured in violation of article 5. For example, political dissidents like Nyima Drakpa and Tenzin Phuntsok were arrested, and they died under torture last year. China continues to use the death penalty more than all other nations of the world combined--10,000 executions last year.

¹  +-(1540)  

    Such indiscriminate use of execution and the lack of due process are a most dangerous combination and one that is in direct opposition to Canadian human rights policies. One example was the execution of Mr. Lobsand Dhondup on January 26, 2003, and the postponed execution of Lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, which was to take place on April 7 of this year. It has been postponed for only one year.

    There are two separate issues here. First, no evidence has ever been produced to support their conviction in a secret trial for so called “bomb-related offences”. Second, there's no reason to believe that the late Lobsand Dhondup was associated with Tensin Delek Rinpoche, since the Rinpoche had in fact expelled Mr. Dhondup from his monastery some time before.

    Tensin Delek Rinpoche, now sentenced to death, has a long-established reputation as a campaigner for human rights and ecological responsibility in Tibet. China hopes to use the blind of the war on terrorism to conceal the murder of such political dissidents. Our government has a clear opportunity to test the efficacy of its relationship with China by intervening in the case of Tensin Delek Rinpoche.

    Freedom of religion in Tibet is essentially non-existent. I remember one young Tibetan woman who recently visited Tibet saying to me that she had met a fellow outside of the Jokhang Temple in Barkhor, one of the most sacred temples in Tibet. This guy was dressed as a Tibetan monk, and she said, “Could you please tell me what the four noble truths are?” That's roughly the equivalent of asking a Christian to name four of the ten commandments--and he couldn't do it. This was no monk.

    Four monks were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for performing a religious ceremony, a long-life puja for the Dalai Lama. This was last year.

    The nun Phuntsog Nyidron served 15 years of imprisonment and torture. In 1989 she was charged with counter-revolutionary crimes when she and five other nuns demonstrated peacefully to celebrate the fact that the Dalai Lama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The sentence was nine years and it was extended eight years for similar offences. She was released this year due to massive international pressure, much of it not from Canada.

    Ngawang Sangdrol, another nun, whom I hope you will see in the next week or two, was imprisoned after shouting “Free Tibet” and singing songs expressing that sentiment and participating in demonstrations. She was first arrested in 1990 in Lhasa, after taking part in a demonstration lasting less than five minutes. She was imprisoned for four months. Then in 1992 she was arrested after helping organize a demonstration for Tibetan independence and was sentenced to three years. That was increased to nine years in 1993, when she was convicted with 13 other imprisoned Drapchi nuns in the Drapchi Prison for writing and recording songs inside the prison on a tape recorder that had been smuggled in for them. The tape was illegally circulated in Tibet and contained such criminal sentiments as: “All of you outside who have done all that you can for us in prison, we are deeply grateful to you and we will never forget you”, or “We are beaten and treated brutally, but this will never change the Tibetan people's perseverance.”

    But Ngawang Sangdrol didn't learn China's brutal lessons. Prison guards beat her and four other nuns in 1996 for shouting “Free Tibet” while already undergoing punishment in prison. Then for several months she was held in solitary confinement with reduced food until July 1996. Her sentence was increased to 18 years. Due to intense international attention she was released earlier this year, having served only 14 years for crimes not unlike what we are doing here today.

    There are numerous accounts of electronic and other torture devices being used routinely for political prisoners, who are treated much worse than other convicts. Accounts of electronic cattle prods being inserted into prisoners' mouths and vaginas are too frequent to ignore.

    There are also other ongoing refugee problems, for example, interference at the Nepal border, where the Nepal government was pressured into returning Tibetan refugees to face imprisonment and torture in Tibet last year.

    Premier Wen himself recently conferred the title of model frontier police substation on the Nepal border police substation under the Shigatse detachment of the Tibet autonomous region public security and border defence core for “cracking five cases of people attempting to flee the country and catching 27 who sought to flee”.

    Tibetans are discriminated against in the educational system of Tibet. As a special rapporteur's report points out, higher education is unavailable in Tibetan. Most education is unavailable in Tibetan.

¹  +-(1545)  

    Prime Minister Martin and DFAIT have another opportunity to improve the relationship with China and to render that relationship dramatically more effective this year.

    In April 2004, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, along with the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, came to Ottawa to meet with the 165 members of the Canadian Parliament who have signed in support of the Tibet-China negotiation campaign.

    What these members of Canada's Parliament are asking the Prime Minister to do is entirely consistent with Canada's role as a peacemaker. They want the Prime Minister to host negotiations between the Government of China and the Dalai Lama and his democratically elected government-in-exile. They, and we, are not asking the Government of Canada to take sides, but rather to act as honest broker. That would I think be a very Canadian thing for our government to do.

    Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much, Professor Given.

    I believe our colleague, Deepak Obhrai, has a motion he would like to make at this point.

+-

    The Clerk: The motion, Mr. Chairman, is that the subcommittee, in relation to its study on human rights issues in China, invite Tibetan activist Ngawang Sangdrol to appear before the subcommittee at its first opportunity.

+-

    The Chair: Any discussion?

[Translation]

    Does anyone wish to discuss this matter? Shall I put the question? Is everyone in favour?

[English]

    (Motion agreed to)

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    We will try to do that next week. Will that be possible?

    The next witness then is Carole Channer, who has already been introduced.

    Carole, you have the floor.

[Translation]

+-

    Mrs. Carole Channer (China Country Coordinator, Amnesty International (Canada)): Good afternoon. I'd like to thank the sub-committee for inviting Amnesty International to appear today.

    I will now continue in English.

[English]

    Brian has spoken quite extensively about the human rights violations in Tibet, so I won't continue with that.

    I'd like to add, though, that most of you have probably heard of the releases of high-profile prisoners like Ngawang Sangdrol, Phuntsog Nyidron, and so on. One might get the impression from this that things are improving in Tibet, when in fact the situation is certainly not improving; it's probably deteriorating.

    The focus for detention seems to be shifting away from the Tibetan autonomous region to some extent and into the other provinces, like Sichuan and Gansu, where Tibetans also live. Unfortunately, it's getting very difficult for human rights organizations to get information on what's happening in Tibet and in places like Xinjiang because the Chinese government has become very sophisticated and very effective in the ways it has of preventing outside people from getting information, and also in repressing the families of those people whom we have traditionally relied on to provide information to us. So although you may not be hearing a lot about what's happening in the other regions of Tibet, the situation is indeed serious.

    I think I would like to address, for a start, Canada's foreign policy on China. Those of us around the table here know one another very well. We've sat in front of DFAIT and various other government representatives year after year pleading for a change in Canada's foreign policy. I really think, quite frankly, that nothing is going to happen from the Canadian side with respect to Tibet and the rest of China until that change in policy takes place.

    When Canada shifted to a bilateral dialogue in 1997, what it meant was that it gave up its traditional role of co-sponsoring and promoting a resolution at the United Nations. It stopped, to a large extent, criticizing the Chinese government in public. Now there have been seven years of this formal dialogue that Canada has locked itself into and there's been no relief at all, that Amnesty International can see anyway, for the victims of human rights abuses in China. None at all.

    This process is severely flawed. It's conducted in secrecy, there's an absence of effective evaluation, and there's a total lack of accountability to Parliament and public for this dialogue. I could mention money as well since people are often concerned about that. It's also a very expensive process in terms of time and human resources, and what is there to show for it? We NGOs, who have expertise and ideas, are virtually excluded from the dialogue process--not completely, but virtually excluded.

    I'll just give you an example. In November 2002 a Canadian dialogue delegation went to visit a prison in Beijing. They had actually visited that prison before, by the way. Anyway, in November 2002 they went to visit this prison, and when we NGOs were debriefed about the visit we were told that the visit was choreographed, that there was no provision made for meeting prison officials or for interviewing inmates. My question is, what on earth is the point of having a visit like that? What is the purpose of such a visit? Dozens of other delegations from other countries have visited this same model prison, and it seems to be nothing more than an exercise in public relations for Chinese authorities.

    We need a policy. Amnesty is not opposed to the dialogue. The dialogue could be a good thing, but it has to be accompanied by other actions on the part of the Canadian government. The apparent reluctance of the government to apply multilateral and public pressure to China is widely perceived to be linked directly to its desire for strong economic relations with China.

    By taking this approach the government is actually not complying fully with its international human rights obligations. Also, it's undermining the human rights work of the UN. Yet our Prime Minister and our Minister of Foreign Affairs regularly refer to the importance of the human rights work of the United Nations and that Canada sees itself supporting that work wherever it can. But it certainly does not do it on China, and really it should.

¹  +-(1550)  

    Effective action on human rights should not be secondary to economic interests. It should be an integral component of all trade relations.

    Brian has talked about the terrorism issue. This is an increasingly serious problem in China, not just in Tibet but also in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region up in the northwest. These two groups, Tibetans and Uighurs, are being targeted as terrorists when most of the time they are just trying to practise their religion and their culture. Sometimes they are taking part in peaceful demonstrations because mosques are being closed down or books are being burned, or what have you. But they are being labelled as terrorists, and in Xinjiang particularly, hundreds have been executed for this. There haven't been as many executions in Tibet so far for these reasons, but it is certainly a situation that needs very careful monitoring and action.

    One of the principal reasons for human rights abuses in China, including Tibet, is the inadequacy of China's justice system, which at the moment, as it presently stands, cannot guarantee fair trials, impartiality, or protection from arbitrary detention and torture. Brian has talked about the case of Tenzin DelegRinpoche and Lobsand Dhondup. Both of these people were victims of trials that did not, in any way, shape, or form, conform with international standards. There is a fairly good reason to believe there were miscarriages of justice in both cases.

    China has taken some positive steps recently. It did abolish one of its forms of administrative detention, but the process is too slow. There is an urgent need for widespread judicial reform, both in legislation and in practice. Amnesty International welcomes the CIDA projects on judicial reform and training of justice officials, but we have to underline the need for accompanying pressure to increase the pace of these reforms. This is a very urgent matter.

    Brian mentioned 10,000 executions. Every year that other countries wait to attempt to address the terrible human rights situation in China, 10,000 more people, or perhaps even more, get executed. The 10,000 figure, by the way, is a Chinese government official admission.

    The human rights of Tibetans would be further protected if pressure were put on China to allow access to the UN thematic mechanisms like the Special Rapporteur on Torture. Amnesty International considers this to be extremely important because of the secrecy with which China administers its justice system, and also the lack of accountability. So it's really important for these UN mechanisms to get into Drapchi Prison in Tibet, to get into the other prisons, the detention centres, and so on, to see exactly what is going on.

    China has stalled. To my knowledge, there has only been one visit by a UN mechanism in the last several years--since 1997, I believe. China manages to give the impression. It issues invitations. It says it will issue invitations. It tells the Americans it has issued an invitation. Nothing happens.

    I also want to say a word about working on individual cases. Amnesty International, as you probably know, believes greatly in the efficacy of taking up individual cases, and we were very happy that the Dalai Lama himself, when he was here a week ago, underlined the importance of this work as well.

    So we want to invite the Canadian government and MPs to work on individual prisoner cases on an ongoing basis, not just to take them up when there is some exchange between Canada and China, but to monitor them, work on them, make a list, and we'd even like to invite some individual MPs to adopt a prisoner of conscience and use their status in the world to help get them released.

    I haven't been timing myself. I have a set of recommendations. Perhaps I will just read them very quickly. You'll have a copy of this later.

    Amnesty International respectfully recommends that the Canadian government undertake a review of foreign policy in China, including a return to strong multilateral action and public pressure to improve the human rights situation, a review of the dialogue process along the lines that I mentioned before, increasing the participation of NGOs in the dialogue and in human rights policy-making.

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    We also recommend that the government encourage Canadian companies doing business with China to make promotion and protection of human rights an integral component of their business dealings at all levels of operation--actually, the UN calls on companies to do that. Ensure that implementation of Canadian investment and development strategies in China does not contribute to abuse of human rights there. Somebody mentioned the western development strategy. I think there's certainly evidence there that this is making things harder for ordinary Tibetans and for Muslims in Xinjiang too.

    We've recommended that the government seek guarantees from the Chinese that they will invite the UN mechanisms, specifically the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief;to urge China to cease repression based on ethnic or religious identity, including crackdowns under the guise of anti-terrorism measures; and to urge China to give the highest possible priority to addressing inadequacies and systemic problems in its law enforcement and justice system, including the lack of an independent judiciary, the existence of administrative detention, and widespread use of torture and the death penalty.

    I'd just like to add one final comment.

    The political repression, economic discrimination, and restrictions on social and cultural rights that Tibetans have suffered for more than 40 years are now occurring among the ethnic Uighur population in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. By taking measures to secure respect for the human rights of Tibetans, the Canadian government may help prevent further deterioration in the already serious human rights situation in Xinjiang, and I appeal to the members of the committee to consider that point.

    I think that's all I want to say. Thank you very much.

º  +-(1600)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, Carole.

    Do you have a list of prisoners you'd like to file as well, or that somebody would like to file?

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    Mrs. Carole Channer: Owing to the shortness of notice, I didn't bring one with me, but we could provide one to the committee subsequently, if that's all right, in a few days.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I know there are many people who want to ask questions.

    The next speakers will be Iris Almeida and Lloyd Lipsett, who is the assistant to the president.

    Would one of you like to explain why Jean-Louis Roy, the president, isn't here today?

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    Ms. Iris Almeida (Director of Policy, Programmes and Planning, International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development): Sure.

    I'm Iris Almeida. I'm the director of policy and programs at Rights and Democracy.

[Translation]

    First of all, I'd like to thank you for inviting Rights and Democracy to this committee. My text is in French and in English, and you will also find a number of important complementary documents that deal with this theme. These documents, which we have produced in the past few years, may interest you.

    I am accompanied by two of my colleagues, Carole Samdup, who is responsible for the globalization program, and Lloyd Lipsett, who holds the position of senior assistant to the president. Our president, Mr. Jean-Louis Roy, is currently in Paris for a meeting of the francophonie. He is therefore unable to be here with us. However, he asked us to convey his warmest greetings to you.

    In terms of the debate, I very clearly stated in the text that there is a need for a coherent framework and an ongoing dialogue to encourage the negotiations between Tibet and China.

[English]

    So the question for us at the start of the discussion is one of coherence, the need for coherence, and the need for a consistent approach with regard to Tibet-Canada relations.

    I would like to say and acknowledge at the start that China has ratified some very important international conventions, namely: the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention against Torture; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    China has signed, but it has not yet ratified, the very important covenant, which is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The question then is, what is the problem? In our work and in our monitoring over the years, it is clear to us that the gap between the formal adherence of China to a certain number of important global international human rights instruments and the actual practice is extremely wide. In fact, in certain areas, and particularly in the case of Tibet, it demonstrates that this gap is widening.

    The violations that we have to recall are happening in all areas, not just in civil and political rights. Often we hear about political prisoners, and they are referring primarily to civil and political rights, but in fact the violations are happening in the areas of economic, social, cultural, and civil and political rights.

    Lastly, I would like to use the short time we have to just focus on a few issues with regard to the human rights situation in Tibet within the broader context.

    My presentation will deal with five issues.

    The first is the right to education. I think when we talk about coherence and dialogue, it passes through things that are very concrete. One of the concrete things that we would like to put on the table is the right to education.

    The second is the right to development.

    The third is the issue of refugees, which is a very serious humanitarian situation today.

    The fourth is the issue of political prisoners, which my colleagues here have, to some extent, raised. I would like to highlight for you three cases in particular: the case of Chadrel Rinpoche, the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, and the case of the Panchen Lama, which has been eloquently raised here.

    Lastly, my fifth point is about Canada's bilateral dialogue, as some of my colleagues have raised, but we have been monitoring this quite closely and we'd like to bring a few points to your attention.

    The right to education. The UN special rapporteur on the right to education has made very important comments in his most recent report with regard to minority education, and he says that the violation of religious and linguistic rights is quite severe in the country. The United Nations development program has also listed literacy in Tibet as the lowest in all of China. Tibetans can receive primary education in the Tibetan language, but they cannot receive secondary and post-secondary education in their own language. Many of the teachers are Chinese, and as a result you have a situation where many predominantly rural Tibetans have very little access to education beyond the primary level.

    Secondly, this whole area of education, which I think is very important if we want to see change even in the global human rights and democratization processes, violates China's own constitution--this deprivation of the right to education of people. Tibetans most often fail entry requirements for university degrees because they have to compete in a second language. I'd like to just highlight that.

    The right to development. We have a great amount of economic growth that we have seen happening, clearly in Tibet and in the rest of China, obviously, in recent years. But the problem is that this increased economic growth is accruing to a section of the population who are basically Chinese speaking and who have just recently come from the rest of China. It's important to note that in the rural areas, where 80% of Tibetans live, the incomes have actually decreased over the past decade.

º  +-(1605)  

    If you go into it a little bit deeply, you see the development in Tibet is not going to Tibetan people. I'll give you a few examples.

    The infrastructure development is being managed by Chinese companies based in the eastern provinces, and the benefits are not accruing to actual Tibetans because the Chinese provide tax breaks and benefits to people who come to Tibet to do business. As a result, without going into all the details, because you'll find them there in my text, we see that although economic growth is happening in Tibet, the Tibetans who are less educated or less skilled cannot compete in these infrastructure and other development projects. The resources continue to be concentrated on people who have come in from the outside.

    Canada has a very important recent program called the basic needs project. It's CIDA's $5 million project in the Tibet autonomous region. This bilateral development project is a project in Tibet; we understand the project was designed in Beijing. It does not necessarily involve the participation of Tibetans; it's very unclear what the participation of Tibetans will be. In a project where $5 million Canadian is involved, where it is destined for the people of that region, there is very little on participation.

    The railway project is another very important project when you talk about development—

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    The Chair: Would you like this paper, Economic Dimensions of Autonomy and the Right to Development in Tibet to be appended to our record today?

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: I would appreciate that. It would be very useful. It will help me to skip on to some other important elements.

    I would like to speak to the situation of refugees.

    There are approximately 2,500 new refugees who arrive in India from Tibet each year. The Tibet-Nepal border in recent years.... You have to remember that the Tibet-Nepal border has traditionally been the escape route for many of the Tibetans fleeing persecution in its multiple forms, and the Chinese government in recent years, especially in recent months, has put enormous pressure on the Nepalese government to send back those who are crossing the borders.

    Refoulement, under international law, has very strict rules that need to be dealt with to guarantee the security and the personal integrity of people. We see the situation, for example, in April 2003: 18 refugees were returned to China by Nepal, some of them as young as 13 years old. The Government of Nepal right now is beginning to work with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to address the situation, and in fact the UN High Commission for Refugees is assisting in ensuring, in collaboration with the Nepalese government, the passage of some of these refugees to India.

    Numerous cases have been brought to our attention of cruel, degrading ill treatment and punishment inflicted on some of these people trying to flee persecution in its multiple forms.

    I have raised with you the question of the political prisoners. I will deposit the comments with regard to the three cases. I hope the committee will look into it and ensure that there is some action on the part of Canada.

º  +-(1610)  

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    The Chair: Perhaps the clerk can tell us. Can these comments on political prisoners be part of the record automatically, or should she file those?

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    The Clerk: Mr. Chairman, if she wished to read them into the record, it would of course be a part of the evidence. If not, they could perhaps be e-mailed to me and could be appended to the evidence.

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: It's in the text I submitted to you.

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    The Clerk: In that case, it would be submitted to the subcommittee as a memoir or a brief and would be part of the official file of the committee.

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    The Chair: Would it be on the Internet then too?

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    The Clerk: It would not be on the Internet unless I could get it in electronic form.

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    The Chair: Could you do that?

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: Sure. Thank you very much for that.

    I would like to talk briefly now on my fifth point, which has to do with Canada's bilateral dialogue on human rights. We believe in dialogue, but we believe in dialogue that is transparent, effective, and accountable. We also believe dialogue of any kind must be coupled with effective action at the United Nations, and particularly at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

    Dialoguing doesn't mean we'll do our little bit in a “quiet diplomacy” way and let the international community—and China particularly, just because of its power and economic strength in international fora—go without any condemnation or even any question about its internal situation.

    Effective action at the UN needs to be coupled with any kind of bilateral dialogue, and the dialogue should address specific violations of human rights. We have to be specific. We can't just say, “China needs to educate its judges and magistrates and its police, and then one day that training—we will send our judges there to show them how we can do things better—will trickle down and their practices might change.”

    This we have been saying for a very long time, and it seems to me that with the taxpayers' money involved, we need to be able to say either we have leverage or we don't have leverage. Either we get into it to effect change or we stay out of it. Maybe we are too small an actor; maybe we cannot do a thing. Then we have to say it up front and maybe listen to what Canadians have to say about this matter.

    It seems to me this lack of coherence and this so-called quiet, step-by-step diplomacy is just not working. It does not take into account what the situation is in China, what China's geopolitical strength is, the kinds and the sophisticated mechanisms of repression in that country.

    It seems to me we have to smarten up in our relations with China, and if we want to leverage, then we should be leveraging in a coherent way, where trade, human rights, development, education, exchanges are all of the same value.

    As a conclusion, I would just say we have a couple of small points to bring to your attention. An effective way to promote human rights, democracy, sustainable development, and good governance is, in our view at this point in time, to work with the Dalai Lama and his representatives to move the fledgling dialogue forward to substantive negotiations on the future of Tibet.

    We have just heard that we are not talking here about anything other than respecting human dignity and autonomy. We are not talking about independence. We are not talking about all sorts of threats and fears and misperceptions and mistruths, but we are talking about the dignity of people who are isolated, marginalized, and struggling within the context of non-violent strategies to be heard by both China and the international community.

    Canada needs to take a more proactive stance. Being an honest broker, a mediator, a peace-builder would be a very effective model of peace-building in a context where China is our fourth-largest trading partner. It is important that we get involved.

    Rights and Democracy believes that parliamentarians who have had an opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama and discuss his rationale for his approach find it entirely reasonable and even advisable in terms of setting positive precedents in conflict resolution in different parts of the world.

    On the role of Parliament, we believe that if there is a greater cross-party consensus on what we can do with regard to increasing our capacity to leverage and negotiate with China, it will be very important.

    Lastly, I would like to bring to your consideration a few strategies we have put forward following a policy seminar we had last week.

º  +-(1615)  

    We would request first the appointment of an official liaison person with the office of the Prime Minister of Canada who will coordinate and monitor Tibet-related policies within the Government of Canada; and secondly, to strengthen Canada's development policy and programming priorities in Tibet with a view to limiting social exclusion and fostering appropriate ownership of the development process by the Tibetan people, and with special emphasis to the capacity of building of youth. We have heard, in the last several weeks in this country, right from Vancouver to Ottawa to now Toronto, that the reality of Tibetan youth needs to be given particular consideration.

    Creating a consultative group. We recommend the creation of a consultative group of concerned Canadians, including parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, and academics to keep the Tibetan issue in the forefront of Canada's China policy, with the objective of promoting a negotiating settlement and securing human rights for the Tibetan people. Lastly, we would like to ask for the creation of a task force to address specific environmental concerns in the Tibetan plateau to promote sustainable development.

    If we couch our relationship with Tibet in a developmentalist and a rights-based development approach, I think the traditional, old, step-by-step, quiet diplomacy, human rights, “maybe it's too difficult, too technical, too political” approach will give way to something that's more coherent and consistent. Canada could probably play a key role in ensuring that dialogue that has started with two sets of meetings already between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the government in Beijing will actually go ahead.

    Since May 2003 there has not been a next step. If we increase the support, the momentum for that process will probably bring great strides to humanity. China will be a superpower in this millennium. If we are not there to be part of a process that gives human dignity, respect, and autonomy to simple, ordinary Tibetans.... I think we should just seize the moment. Thank you.

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    The Chair: Wow. Thank you. You're a very, very eloquent panel.

    Does Ms. Samdup wish to speak at all?

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    Ms. Carole Samdup (Program Officer, International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development): No, I'll just respond to questions. Thank you.

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    The Chair: Then we'll go right to questions.

    I believe the official opposition is going to divide their 10 minutes.

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you very much for coming and talking to us.

    I raised this question when His Holiness was here, and I'm going to raise it again, because I strongly believe this is the route to take. I've been to China, and I've seen the economic miracle that is taking place. But China cannot sustain that economic miracle unless it undergoes political change. That political change will come, and it will make China's political establishment change. China will go through an upheaval.

    I've been there. There's no freedom of speech in China. The basic human rights that we talk about, that we enjoy here, as a democracy, the people in China do not enjoy. You can't maintain the economic factor when you have closed your thought process on all sides, because this eventually will catch up. As to when it will catch up, I don't know.

    In light of that, I have to say that I'm one of those, with my colleague here, who has called for stopping Canada's aid to China. I will be very blunt about it. We see the aid as being misdirected when they're spending 12% of their GDP on.... I mean, an argument can be made that there's poverty and so forth, but I think you need to look at the bigger picture.

    What I'm saying is that in light of this fact, with due respect to His Holiness' middle approach of non-violence, I think it's time for you to say that Tibet is not part of China. I'm sorry; I subscribe to one of those theories that Tibet is not. It's culturally different and religiously different. All of your testimony speaks quite clearly to the fact that there are human rights abuses. I see an occupying force trying to take over a country--end of story. It's not a region; it's none of those things. You're talking about human rights abuses; you're talking about people running. All of this points to one thing: a brutal occupation.

    Somewhere down the road, with the political freedom that is eventually going to come to China, these questions are going to be asked within China itself. So I think it's best to approach it from that point of view right now and start asking why Tibet can't be a separate country. This is my point of view. I'm being straightforward and blunt about it. I think Tibet is an independent country.

    Can you give me your assessment? What do you think?

    Let's be blunt about it. You talked about development and all of these things as needing a slow approach, but the slow approach hasn't worked, as the Dalai Lama's representative stated. And I do appreciate His Holiness' part in this. Mahatma Gandhi, when he fought for the independent movement of India...but that's neither here nor there. We're not advocating violence; we're advocating putting it out there and saying, it's an occupying army, an occupying country.

    Thank you.

º  +-(1620)  

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    The Chair: Who are you addressing that to?

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: To anybody who wants to talk.

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    The Chair: Can all of you please try to answer in about two minutes or so? Or perhaps you can just say “yes”.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: Where we're coming from, as His Holiness always states... and there are a lot of Tibetans who have always claimed that Tibet has always been an independent country, that Tibet is forcibly occupied, invaded in 1959. But His Holiness, the way he looks at things is universal. His thing is that human beings seek happiness. They try to overcome suffering. Right now, his immediate concern is to alleviate the suffering his people are going through every day.

    That's one of the reasons why I follow His Holiness, because of his middle path. We can sit here in Canada and ask for independence until our faces are blue, but I don't think we'll get very far. Even without asking for independence, we're not getting very far.

    So we're trying to be a little bit more realistic, saying, look, what can Canada realistically do for Tibet?

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: But the times are changing.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: And I'd like to see that. You see, as I said before, there is a massive population transfer into Tibet. Tibet has already become a minority, and Dalai Lama recently talked about what happened to inner Mongolia. There are about 28 million Han Chinese to 3 million Mongolians. They have already become insignificant.

    He just recently said in Toronto, to a group of young Tibetans, one of the reasons I've been asking for genuine autonomy is that what we have in our culture and religion is very rich and unique and needs to be preserved--not just for Tibet but for the world. Many scientists who have met the Dalai Lama have told him that today, where science stops, Buddhism picks up.

    So it's not something we take lightly. He is trying to tell young Tibetans, it's very important that you study Tibetan, and you should be proud of your culture.

    We have the Tibetan Youth Congress, which is a little bit radical. They've always questioned things, with all the love and respect they have for the Dalai Lama, openly saying, Your Holiness, with all due respect, you're trying to sell a commodity in this world where there is no market; nobody is interested in your message of love, peace, and non-violence, so it's about time we looked at other alternatives.

    His Holiness understood their frustration and anger, but he very clearly said about seven years ago, if Tibetans resort to violence, then you can count me out; I'll have no part of it.

    That is the only reason up to now you have not seen the Tibetan Youth Congress of young, frustrated Tibetans resorting to violence. But I could see it happening soon.

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: We are not advocating violence, though.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: No, no, I understand. But you see, we've seen around the globe that taking up violence is easy. You just need two or three nutcases running around creating havoc for a cause. But here we are honestly trying to show an example to the world that one does not have to resort to violence. That's why we go around pleading to the world, help us, prove us right, don't let us fail.

    Today, the way I see it, wherever His Holiness goes, people just love him. But what do they do? To put it very bluntly, in some ways they are failing him in front of his own people. I think that is morally wrong. That's why we are asking the Canadian government, wake up; if you truly want to eradicate terrorism in the world, it's about time we paid attention and supported non-violent groups. Otherwise, we'll be responsible if these non-violent groups also become violent.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC): I agree with that analysis and hypothesis. I think you can prove it out in history.

    Here around this table, I appreciate what somebody said in terms of, “We'd like to see great party participation on this”. But it's not going to happen. I say this with respect to my colleagues, but they are trapped in time and are trapped in a political reality saying they are not allowed to speak out boldly against what's going on in China. I don't say this to them negatively, but they're just trapped in time and in politics.

    Have you pursued another area?

    By the way, we will continue to advocate. As you know, we in the opposition aren't threatened by the intimidation we receive from the Chinese government. Anytime we speak on this, we get the phone calls, we get the faxes, and we get the threat that Canadian business is going to be shut out of China. They say that to us, and yet every time we have spoken out it hasn't happened.

    Have you entertained meeting—or maybe you've done this—with any of the significant businesses in Canada that do business in China and that advise our government to stay quiet, to let the natural progression of trade... And I believe in trade, because when you trade commodities, you trade ideas, right? So I believe in that, and I don't want to hurt our trade.

    But I look at the experience, for instance, with the Talisman oil and gas company in Sudan. Once it really became internationally known that the company was there, it had an effect. It did have an effect on them. And I'm not even saying if I'm for or against them being there.

    Have you met or would you meet with significant businesses, whether we're talking about Bombardier or the Desmarais corporation or others, to share your heart with them?

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    Ms. Carole Samdup: Perhaps I can respond to that.

    There have been informal contacts with representatives of Canada's largest corporations--quiet meetings, unofficial ones, not publicized.

    The problem is that when you have a public venue, such as the policy seminar that Rights and Democracy organized with the Canada-Tibet Committee last week.... For that event, we sent out upwards of 35 invitations to Canada's largest corporations, those active in China and members of the Canada-China Business Council. Not one of them could participate; not one of them responded positively. So I think that's a bit of the problem. Again, it's this situation of quiet support behind the scenes, but at a practical level, where it could have some impact, they're not there.

    Our concern at the moment is not necessarily with those large companies, which are not actually in Tibet per se, but with the smaller Canadian mining companies that are starting to move into Tibet in large numbers. We have tried to do some outreach to them. Some of them have been willing to meet and others have not. But by and large, as we've seen in many other countries around the world, the junior Canadian mining companies cause a problem where they go. As yet, we have not been able to establish a good discussion with them about trying to mitigate some of those possible problems before they happen.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: I'll pass this on, Mr. Chairman.

    I appreciate what you're saying about the smaller ones. The larger ones and some of their corporate heads have the ear of the Liberal government here. They have their ear. It's they who talk about being careful: “Don't upset the Chinese government”. But I appreciate your making some inroads there.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: We at the Canada Tibet Committee, with our limited resources, have worked very hard for the past four years. This has included meeting with some of the big business people. For example, I've met with a nephew of a Desmarais and with a few past ambassadors to Beijing. When you talk to them one on one, they really feel that Canada coming on board and really playing the honest broker in bringing the two parties together is not going to hurt Canadian business interests in China.

    When I've heard this, I've told them, “It's important that the PMO gets this message from you—not from us.” I don't know if it's reached there, but we know that no matter which party is running the government, business interests are very important. So it's only the business community that could send that message to the Prime Minister's Office.

    Basically, we're not very politically savvy people.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: Yes, you are.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: We are appealing on a human level; this is the way we work. All of us are human beings and all of us are parents. We have to ask ourselves the question, what kind of world do we want our children to grow up in? This is where the Dalai Lama comes in. Culture and religion don't matter, but we all belong to a human family.

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    The Chair: We're way over our time.

[Translation]

    Mr. Rocheleau has the floor.

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for your evidence. I'd like to ask a two-pronged question.

    First of all, could you explain to us what is behind China's policy? Is the objective simply to dominate the people of Tibet or to stifle their culture, traditions and identity, or rather is it that there is no recognition of the existence of this people? What exactly is the strategy?

    Secondly, is the middle-way approach advocated by the Dalai Lama since 1988 still on track? Is there consensus on that in Tibet, or is it questionable?

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: This is how we see the situation. In 1950, Chinese troops entered Tibet, in the wake of Mao. In 1951, they annexed Tibet. So before 1950, Tibet was an independent country. That's the first consideration. Then, in 1951, a 17-point agreement was signed, but even the Dalai Lama and his colleagues indicated that they were pressured into signing.

    After that, between 1959 and 1965, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted three important resolutions indicating that the Tibetan people's fundamental right to self-determination had been seriously violated. In my view, a lot of time has gone by, and the situation of the Tibetan population in Tibet has worsened. There are now more foreigners in Tibet than there are Tibetans. The Dalai Lama and his entourage have proposed a peace plan.

    The five points of this peace plan, which appear to me to be completely reasonable, could be global. For example, Canada could easily, in my opinion, work with this peace plan. Let's see what it says.

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[English]

    First is the transformation of Tibet into a zone of peace. We can be quite creative to help in a process of transforming Tibet into a zone of peace. I really believe that.

    The second is to stop the population transfer policy. Is that too big? Is that such a big issue? Right now, it is an organized, systemic strategy to destabilize the country. So if we can stop the population transfer, I don't think it's very unreasonable.

    Third is respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. If China is such a powerful nation in the international community and deserves continued respect, it has to adhere to some rules. I think those rules are the rules of international law and international humanitarian law, those that respect human rights. Therefore, if they ratify instruments and work with countries like Canada, who have a lot of background on human rights and democracy, our exchanges can be more vibrant. Here I would like to add that Canadian civil society, not only Canadian government officials, have expertise in this field. Therefore, we need more dialogue between the Canadian government and Canadian civil society in a transparent and unambiguous manner to share...because we're there. If we go into a mediating room, we go there as Canada or as Canadians, not as government officials. So that's the third point, respect for human rights and democratic freedoms.

    Fourth is to restore and protect the environment. We have such a lot of expertise. Even our private companies in this country have incredible expertise on environmental protection mechanisms. We could do something in that area.

    And the last of the five points is negotiation on the future status of Tibet. What is the status of Tibet? At least having movement on four of these issues will assist in the process of actually talking in a conducive environment, per the last one, the negotiation on the future status of Tibet.

[Translation]

    So, it appears to me that a peace plan has been put forward, and two delegations of Tibetans have gone to China, in 2002 and 2003. Since last May, there hasn't been a lot of movement. Actively encourage movement in a direction that could lead to a resolution. I look at the role that Norway is playing in Sri Lanka; it's an active role, a friendly role. A group of friendly countries needs to be created. I know that for a long time, Canada has said that we have to act multilaterally, that we need to work with other friendly countries. I agree fully. I have worked toward the creation of the International Criminal Court since 1996, and I find that that is our best strategy.

    We need civil society, the Government of Canada and a few friendly countries. We could help you to find friendly countries, because we know of a few. By working together, we wouldn't be working in isolation and our efforts wouldn't be as difficult as they currently are. This attitude of restraint and caution doesn't really make much sense under the circumstances.

º  +-(1640)  

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    The Chair: Did you want to add something?

[English]

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    Prof. Brian J. Given: I could also make another attempt to answer your question. You have to remember, and as a scholar I can tell you, that Tibet has not historically been ruled by China. Certainly, in the 50 years preceding the invasion, there's absolutely no question that all the Chinese officials were kicked out, even those who had been there before.

    There is an assumption in Chinese history that the emperor was the emperor of the world. The wall marked only that part they had managed to civilize and control. By Chinese standards, Ottawa has always been part of China, as has San Francisco.

    Again, you have to remember that this is a country where people are still taught in the schools that white people are hairy because they mated with other primates, that red-haired people mated with orangutans, and that sort of thing. So there's a tremendous sense of superiority, both racial and cultural--reminiscent of some of our own historical background; China is just some four hundred years behind the times--in the sense that the Chinese were going to civilize Tibet.

    But there are other voices now. The new Chinese intellectuals, the people who used to see the Tibetans as primitive--they were people who needed to be civilized and their religion was superstition--are now quite fascinated with Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama has become really cool for a lot of these people. There are also Chinese political moderates who are saying, look, negotiate with the Dalai Lama now for goodness' sake or we can find ourselves in a really terrible situation if he passes away and we haven't resolved these issues.

    There isn't just the voice you hear from the Chinese embassy; there are multiple voices coming out of China. We need to decide whether we want to identify with the old guard--which perhaps our old guard identified with--or whether in fact we want to identify with those new and emerging voices in China.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Mr. Rocheleau.

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: If the situation doesn't turn around, what's going to happen in 25, 50, or 100 years with Tibet and Manchuria, which the Dalai-Lama discussed when he appeared before the full Foreign Affairs Committee? He also talked about Mongolia. What can we expect? What's going to become of all of those territories in 100 years if the situation isn't turned around in terms of respect for identities?

+-

    Ms. Iris Almeida: I think that in the global context of terrorism, we can see that in a number of countries, people are severely oppressed in their struggle for survival, dignity and self-expression. When people are oppressed, whether sadly or overly aggressively, their rebellion may take many forms, including political instability, none of which does any good for anyone.

    In these times of war, terrorism, and growing insecurity in the world, I think that it's very important for a country like ours, Canada, where there are after all a certain number of values and traditions of peace, good governance, and democracy, to play a more proactive and less timid role, because we are a mid-size country, and so on. Personally, I truly believe in Canada's leadership, among others, as a country of the Asia-Pacific region. When I go to Vancouver, that is the reality that I see and live.

[English]

    We are an Asia Pacific power, and we need to play a role in Asia and not just say, oh well, we have to follow; those guys know what they're doing; they'll tell us to get out of there. This is fearmongering in these countries.

    China is a superpower in the making, and even superpowers care about their international reputation. They do not want to be pariahs in the international community; nobody wants that. It is very important that we do not think, oh, they are going to kick us out; all our businesses will close down and what will we do? I don't think so. They will have more respect for us.

    But we can't just criticize. I don't believe in criticism; I believe in engagement that is active and is part of a genuine partnership, where we're not a junior player. We have to stop being a junior player in this relationship.

    That's my real, strong view.

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    The Chair: I guess the time is up for the moment.

    Perhaps, Mr. Patry, you can determine whether Ms. Almeida is more eloquent in French or in English.

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.): We don't know yet, but please just use French or English.

    Madam Almeida, in your submission you just mentioned that CIDA is currently involved in a basic human needs project of $5 million in Tibet. I didn't know about this. Can you elaborate a little bit more about this?

    And I have a second question.

[Translation]

    When economic or political leaders, whether from Canada or other countries, go to China and raise the issue of human rights in Tibet, it seems that none of those discussions go anywhere. Looking at the situation, it's apparent that very little progress is being made, if there is any being made at all.

    You referred to a multilateral approach with NGOs, Canada and other friendly countries. Do you think that we should work with the World Trade Organization? Next year, there's going to be a ministerial meeting that China will be participating in. Do you think that Canada and all of the friendly countries should try to adopt a strategy for that meeting? Do you think that a new resolution should be adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Commission? Canada has just been elected to this commission for 2005, I believe, and for a few years. Do you think that we should raise this subject at that meeting of the United Nations?

+-

    Ms. Iris Almeida: Thank you very much. I'd just like to say one thing. In the past few years, there have been Team Canada missions. Team Canada missions are a very good way to speak together and to concretely engage in a certain number of things. Every time, before the Team Canada missions, we have written a long memo on the situation in China based exclusively on our mandate, the mandate of Rights and Democracy. We have never received an acknowledgement of receipt.

    Second, we offered to participate actively in this delegation. If we want to celebrate Canada and establish a link between Canada and China, that has to be done on a number of levels, with business, officials, academics and also with civil society. But that has never been the case. I think that that could still be corrected in the future. That could be a good dialogue.

    Even here, the dialogue is not systematic and structured. So how can we have a dialogue with our friends over there? The dialogue has to be initiated here with a strong leadership position from government. I think that relations between the Prime Minister's Office and China are quite focussed and centralized. There needs to be some leadership in this area.

    I'm going to let Carole talk about development, about the CIDA project and the WTO.

[English]

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    Ms. Carole Samdup: CIDA is engaged in a five-year project in the Tibet autonomous region. This is the first-ever bilateral project between CIDA and the Government of China in Tibet. It's currently in the fourth year of operation.

    When the project was initiated we had a number of concerns about it. We're engaged in a dialogue with CIDA officials regarding those concerns and have made a number of recommendations. I think the original thought from CIDA officials was that this was an initial project, one that could be a kind of test and could be replicated in future years or future projects. For that reason we did place quite a lot of emphasis on ensuring the participation of the Tibetan people, and not only that, but that the benefits of the project would accrue to the Tibetan people.

    The problems lie primarily in the fact that the whole project was part of this western development strategy. The western development strategy itself was a security initiative from the Government of China. So there are many factors--for example, the development of the railway that goes from China down into Tibet. Much of the development takes place along the track of the railway, and this CIDA project is no different.

    However, I will say that in these past four years there has been a real willingness on the part of CIDA to listen and to experience. I think also their experience on the ground was surprising, perhaps even for them. They have encountered quite a few problems doing what they thought they would be able to do. They have shifted a lot of the emphasis of the project now so that it is really focused on small-scale initiatives with the rural people, and they have developed personal relationships.

    In my view, I don't know if you're getting $5 million worth out of it--growing a small plot of lettuce in someone's backyard. On the other hand, in terms of looking toward the future, then perhaps lessons learned will serve quite well.

    As you probably know, CIDA has recently adopted a new policy framework for its work in China. That policy framework will be in place for about five years. The framework prioritizes western development, so CIDA will be looking to move its operations, in part to respond to the concerns that the work they're doing in the eastern regions is really not very critical because the eastern regions are quite well developed already, industrialized. So they will move their emphasis to the western regions, which include Tibet.

    They've also promised in that policy framework to develop a new policy on how to deal with minority issues. The development of a new policy on minority issues is something that civil society organizations would like to be involved in, would like to participate in. I would think and hope that this committee would also want to be involved in the development of that policy.

    On the issue of the WTO, of course, the WTO in a way safeguards us against this argument that if we press too hard on human rights, it'll have an impact on our trade. In fact, the WTO prevents that from happening. So from that point of view it's quite good.

    Now, I think if the next ministerial does take place in Hong Kong, as people have said it will--it's not entirely certain--then there will be an opportunity, of course, to put a lot of emphasis on human rights conditions in China, just as we saw when the ministerial was in Cancun and people focused on the issues of Mexico, etc. So it does provide an opportunity in that sense, perhaps more particularly for civil society.

    It's important to remember when talking about the WTO that the purpose of the WTO is actually to encourage sustainable development. Nowhere in its mandate does it say that it promotes free trade for free trade's sake. In that sense I think we can look at the possible impacts on a country like China of liberalization of the agricultural sector, for example. Keeping in mind the fact that 80% of the Tibetan people are rural and make their living from agriculture, there is a direct correlation between the opening of grain markets and canola, for example, and the impact that could have on Tibetan farmers and their livelihoods.

    So there are a number of ways to approach the WTO, I think, but in terms of advocacy, I think the ministerial will be a key point for us.

º  +-(1650)  

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: What about raising it at the United Nations, getting a new resolution from the United Nations?

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    Ms. Carole Samdup: The resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights are something that have come forward almost every year for the past 15 years or so. Generally, the problem is that China puts forward something called the “no action motion”. So what the members are actually voting on is whether or not they should vote on this. It's a little-used procedural mechanism, but it's used primarily by China to defeat this particular resolution that goes forward. I think in one year the vote was very close, just by one, and after that many countries that formally sponsored the resolution became quite discouraged and thought it was quite a useless initiative and would rather put their political capital somewhere else.

    This is where we came up with this idea of the bilateral dialogue as a substitute, and of course we do have a lot of problems with the dialogue.

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    Mr. Bernard Patry: Can I share my time with my colleague?

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    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos (Ahuntsic, Lib.): No, it's all right. Ms. Channer wanted to add something.

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    Mrs. Carole Channer: I wanted to add something to what Carole said about the no action motion. I know that Amnesty and other China NGOs have repeatedly asked the government to get involved in trying to prevent or trying to get rid of this procedure--perhaps not get rid of the procedure itself but try to minimize its use--because it's a real manipulation of the UN, it doesn't help anybody, and this has been happening year after year.

    So we would like to urge you, Amnesty would like to urge the government, to get involved in this. It's a relatively small thing, but it would be very useful.

º  +-(1655)  

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    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: Actually, my question, Mr. Chair, was answered because it was on the UN exactly. I wanted to know what mechanisms we should be using. It's actually important because it was around the UN and what more we should be doing.

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    The Chair: Excuse me, the last person I want to interrupt is the...your time is actually up. Can we go five minutes and then five minutes to you?

    Five minutes for Mr. Day.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: I would like to allow my colleague to have some time.

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    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: That generosity is always appreciated, Mr. Chair.

    I've had some experience on another issue in terms of the UN's inability, and it's on Cypress, which is also one-third occupied. Along those lines we've had thousands and thousands of resolutions, but the facts remain. They just joined the European Union, but they're still divided and occupied, as far as I'm concerned.

    We're back on the executive. Should we be presenting a type of resolution, perhaps calling for a mediator? That's the message I got from the Dalai Lama, that we should really be working towards a mediator, despite what China wants or doesn't want and despite the other types of diplomacy we're going to use or not use. Perhaps our focus should be on pushing for a mediator, a neutral person, not necessarily Canada, perhaps not for other reasons, but maybe a neutral person somewhere, with a lot of expertise in human rights. Maybe you have some suggestions even on who, but I think that's where Canada should be going. I want your opinion on that.

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: I would strongly support that this is what we are trying to advocate, that if we are interested in demonstrating leadership, we can find a way to do it. That's the political will to take a decision that, yes, we are ready to stand up and be counted. That's the first point.

    Once we do that we could call for a group of like-minded countries to start moving. But still we have to take the first steps to demonstrate leadership, to create that like-minded group. I think any action at the Commission on Human Rights is also extremely useful in spite of these no action motions.

    Multilateral fora have to be used, because in these bilateral dialogues you can get cornered as a country and what you need to do will be dictated to you. So I think this multilateral framework and the UN should be used more to promote the central objective, which is the movement on the peace plan and the mediation process.

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    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: I think it has been stated in any case that we do believe in multilateralism, and I think the Prime Minister has said so.

    I think the first step was meeting with the Dalai Lama, if I may say so, and be a little partisan in saying that. I was one of the MPs, along with other colleagues, who did encourage him in fact to do so. And the numbers are quite significant in terms of the members of Parliament.

    Past that, should we be providing aid to Tibet, or should we be focusing our resources perhaps in assuring that there is a focused aid—I don't know how to put this—in terms of helping democratic development rather than economic development? Maybe it's both we should be doing, but in a way I'm starting to believe that we have to focus more on our resources in terms of strengthening certain institutions that are there, rather than on the economic level.

    What's your opinion on that? Anybody can respond.

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    Prof. Brian J. Given: I think the way you do that is by tying economic development aid to the democratic process, to the basic human rights issues.

    I agree with my colleague also about the activity at the UN. I would also argue that Canada is in a very unique position to use our friendship with China to actually make progress. We can tie ourselves up for years at the UN, but we can actually do something now in our relationship with China. It will be perceived as beneficial by the Chinese at the same time we work for Tibet.

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    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: So you would focus on our being the mediator?

»  +-(1700)  

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    Prof. Brian J. Given: I think we should offer to host negotiations and to facilitate those negotiations.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: We've talked about this. The reason we launched this campaign is simply that. We watched His Holiness the Dalai Lama travelling the world making a simple request. Many Tibetans don't like to hear His Holiness repeatedly say, I'm not seeking independence, I'm asking for genuine autonomy. He just keeps repeating it like a mantra.

    So here we are sitting here asking, how can we help the Dalai Lama? How can we help Tibet? Then all of a sudden we say, the way to help is in what he's asking for, if we can convince our government to deliver it. That's why we worked on all the parliamentarians. So when we say 165, that's from all parties.

    To me sometimes one has to stop and say, we have to do things for the right reason. Here is the Dalai Lama, who has become synonymous today with non-violence and peace. He's 68 years old. He's not getting younger any more. I will tell you this, and I have no shame in saying this: he is all we have. We have no oil, we have nothing. He is all we have. That's why the Dalai Lama kept referring to me as a young, impatient man. Of course, I'm impatient, because once he's gone, Tibet is gone, as far as I'm concerned.

    That's why I appeal to you all on a human level. I'm sure there are all kinds of things out there, but as humans, do we have some moral responsibility to help somebody like him? As far as I'm concerned, I think we have provided our Prime Minister with tools whereby he can turn around, if he wanted, to his Chinese counterpart and say, look, I'm getting pressure from over 50% of the members of Parliament. All he has to do is say, I would like to help while I'm in this office to see if I can bring the two parties together, without any preconditions, just bring the two parties together. That's all His Holiness is asking.

    I think here is a situation where it's a win-win situation for all: Canada, Tibet, China. Canada could step right in and take all the credit. As far as I'm concerned, I think the Chinese are ready to talk, but they're looking for a face-saving excuse, and Canada can provide that because of its unique relationship with China.

    Otherwise, we can just watch and play the game out like some Chinese hardliners are doing. Wait for the Dalai Lama to die; Tibet dies with him. And we'll just be witnessing how everybody will talk about this great man as though he was the Mahatma Gandhi and speak of his great input. But what did you do while you could do something?

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: If I may add, Sam has brought up the moral imperative for us to do something. I would say it's also a pragmatic imperative. Canada, in order to play an important leadership role in the international community in the 21st century, needs to be very strategic in its choice of interventions. We can be Boy Scouts and go all over the place, but on the other hand, we can make strategic decisions that in certain countries or places in the world we can leave our imprimatur. We have something special to give.

    This message of peace is very Canadian, I would say, and we are recognized. For the last 20 years I have been going around different parts of the developing world for Canada, as a Canadian, and I see the tremendous respect for this notion of peace. But this understanding of what is peace and what is peacemaking and peace-building is changing with the.... It is a mutation, I would say, of the global context. So it's not the peace-building of the 1960s but of the 21st century.

    I think there are sufficient Canadians who can contribute to this process of peace, where Canada can shine as a power that will maybe bring a few others, perhaps some of the Scandinavian countries, to the table with China, to be able to pursue....

    We could use perhaps the current human security network that we are part of. The moment we make a political decision that this is strategically important and define why it is strategically in our interest to get involved, how do we be messengers of peace, given the very sophisticated and complex context of China, to assist...?

    A large part of humanity is in Asia today. This country will need to understand much more the role of the Asia Pacific with regard to Canada and benefit from that region. I think the Tibet situation and this issue of encouraging a dialogue with China is a step further in the interest of putting peace in Tibet on the map and would be a very good way to do that.

»  +-(1705)  

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    Ms. Carole Samdup: I'd like to respond briefly to your question about aid, if it's useful to have aid programs in Tibet.

    Obviously if those aid programs contributed to more social exclusion or contributed to China's geopolitical ambitions in the region, we wouldn't support them, but given that CIDA may be actually trying its best to behave in a respectful manner there, I think it is extremely useful to have a foreign government on the ground, because there are very few, maybe only the Danish government, in Tibet currently with an aid program. It is useful to have a foreign government there as a witness.

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    The Chair: Monsieur Rocheleau.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: I have a question that's almost technical. When the Dalai Lama left, he left with thousands of people. He formed a government in exile in India. Is that government recognized by India and by other sovereign governments in the world, or is it considered illegitimate, under pressure from China?

[English]

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: The Tibetan government-in-exile that is in India is not recognized by India, nor by any other country in the world.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: Not even by the Scandinavian countries or France? Thank you.

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    The Chair: Is that all?

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: Yes.

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    The Chair: Okay.

[English]

    Could any of you recommend a policy of any other country than Canada that is making a positive difference for Tibet? We can learn from others.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: The Scandinavian countries have been very forthcoming in their support of the Dalai Lama's peace proposals and all his initiatives. So is the United States government, and Congress has passed several resolutions.

    In fact, a few years ago Bill Clinton, when he was President, took at least fifteen minutes in Beijing at one of the press conferences talking about negotiations with the Dalai Lama. The British government, the French government, and almost all western governments have been very supportive. This is where we came in, saying yes, we have received a lot of lip support, and now we need something more tangible. We are asking our government to take that extra step required, to take that leadership role.

    As Iris was saying earlier, as soon as Canada takes that leading role, all these other countries I mentioned before will come on board. Really, Canada can make a difference. Canadians sent a very clear message through their elected representatives on what they wanted their government to do.

    There's something I just want to share here. When the Dalai Lama met this time last week with the three party leaders, Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe, and Jack Layton, some of the leaders kept asking him this question: What can we do? How can we help? His Holiness' response was always, China is a very important country; we must bring China into the mainstream; they should not be isolated--you know, all the good things. He wasn't coming out, and they were sitting there itching.

    I just wanted him to come out and say exactly what we wanted out of this. But he said gentle persuasiveness in dialogue from the Canadian government would be very helpful. I was just sitting there as a Tibetan watching him, and for me it was very painful.

    When he met with the Prime Minister, the first thing he did was to say he apologized if his presence in this country had caused any inconvenience to anyone. He's not the one who would put people on the spot. He told me also, if people are going to help us, they should do it voluntarily, because they want to do it, not because you're coercing them by shaming them into doing it.

    I just watch him. He travels with the same message over and over again. When he doesn't get the tangible support....

    At the same time, I've watched young Tibetans growing up and becoming very impatient. That troubles me. That's why I think we really do have to act fast.

    As you remember, he was supposed to be in Ottawa in 2002. He had to cancel because he got ill, and that reality just hit us in the face. Tibetans tend to think he's a living God and he won't die. Like I said earlier, he is really all we have; without him nobody is interested in Tibet.

    That's why I'm impatient. I appeal to Canadian members of Parliament to come and see this very unique and important culture before it dies.

»  +-(1710)  

[Translation]

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    The Chair: The chair of our mother committee would like to ask a question after.

    Carole, go ahead.

[English]

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    Ms. Carole Samdup: Just very quickly, on the question of what other governments are doing, I'll say it's important, in light of what Thubten has just said, to remind the committee members that the refugee community also has a lot of needs. There is a lot of despair within the refugee community. There are countries that are actively going in and trying to support the community, giving help in terms of medical aid, building schools, providing psychological assistance, job creation, job training, and these kinds of things. Germany, Italy, the U.K., and Switzerland are all there.

    We have tried unsuccessfully for many years to get the Canadian government to even visit Dharmsala, where the administrative offices are. They're not willing to do so. So this is an issue, and I think it's a place where Canada could easily play a positive role.

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    Mr. Bernard Patry: I just want to ask Mr. Samdup a follow-up. You just mentioned that we should not isolate China, but that seems to be in contradiction with the position of a lot of the lobbyists, a lot of human rights groups here in Canada, who pinpoint and blast and smash our government for the fact that we deal with China. They say we should not deal with China because of their poor human rights relations, saying it's very bad over there so you should not go there. It seems to be a contradiction.

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    Mr. Thubten Samdup: I would say this. His Holiness the Dalai Lama comes from one school and we come from another school. He was one of the first who endorsed or supported this whole notion of Beijing hosting the Olympic Games, even though there were many Tibetan groups who opposed it. You see, he sincerely believes there's no such thing as the enemy. The destruction of your enemy is destroying yourself; that's how he comes at it.

    But there are some of us who believe differently, so perhaps--

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    Mr. Bernard Patry: That's okay. I just wanted to know.

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    The Chair: Madame Almeida.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Iris Almeida: On behalf of Rights and Democracy, I'd like to say that our mandate has to do with human rights and democracy. An integral part of democracy is seeing countries grow, and make economic, social and political progress. We are very careful not to criticize without making straightforward, concrete and tangible suggestions. What we seek are tangible changes to the situation.

    We find that talking for the sake of talking, discussing for the sake of discussing, is a bit of a luxury, but at the same time, it's caution and silence merely to defend an aspect of government policy.

    Canada's foreign policy is threefold. It is our position that all three parts should be promoted with the same rigour and force, not played off against one another, or promoted individually whenever it suits us. Now, in the world, outside Canada, people are under the impression that when oil-producing countries are concerned countries that are rich and prosperous and where we are looking for opportunities, we remain silent. However, in other countries like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, or elsewhere, we try to make things change. So when I refer to consistency, the key, in my view, is having all three pillars of Canada's foreign policy go hand in hand.

    At any rate, any Asian person will tell you that it's not by criticizing that you're going to change things diplomatically,

»  +-(1715)  

[English]

it's by allowing people to save face. You do not destroy the person you are going to build a partnership with, and you do not publicly embarrass somebody you are going to want to work with. That's the fundamental essence of Asian diplomacy, and China is an Asian power, very obviously. That is the key rule.

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    Mrs. Carole Channer: I don't know if Monsieur Patry is referring to Amnesty International when he talks about getting--

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    Mr. Bernard Patry: No, I didn't say that. I just pinpointed Mrs. Samdup's comments.

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    Mrs. Carole Channer: I know you didn't.

    Certainly, speaking for Amnesty International, I can say we do try to be as constructive as possible. We do have to criticize in the sense that we do have to point out what isn't being done that we would like to be done.

    It's rather disappointing for us when, for example, in the Department of Foreign Affairs briefing that came to NGOs in the consultations in February, it says very clearly that the Canadian government believes in engagement, not isolation, when it comes to China. Well, I don't know of a single NGO that has ever advocated isolation, so it's very hard for us too when we hear this.

    Sometimes we get letters back from government officials, and they say very indignantly, well, trade is important; you have to choose between trade and human rights. That's the kind of tack that gets taken. We don't take that tack, so I hope that's not the message that comes across from us.

    It's a little harder for our organization to be...we can't take part in.... For example, I haven't attempted to respond to any of the questions on the political relations between China and Tibet because we stay outside of that aspect of things. So our discussions and sometimes our approaches aren't quite as broad as they can be from the Rights and Democracy people, which is a little unfortunate.

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    The Chair: Brian Given would like to say something.

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    Prof. Brian J. Given: We have to remember that our friendship with China is a friendship with a bully, and like most bullies, you have to stand up to them. Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama's special representative and the head of the delegation to China, commented that China speaks most harshly to those regimes that are most compliant. Hence, China orders our Prime Minister not to meet with the Dalai Lama. I'm very pleased to see that he did in fact do that, and I think he'll find China may be a little more compliant after that.

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    The Chair: Some or all of you will come back next week with Ngawan Sangdrol, if she can come.

    A witness: Yes.

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    The Chair: We want to thank you all very much for coming today. I don't know how we could get a more eloquent panel on any subject than we've heard from today. Merci 10 000 fois.

    Mr. Day has a motion.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: Friends, we are well aware of what's happening in Sudan. There's not only an ongoing situation, but it has reached emergency proportions. There is great concern, especially now that the rainy season has started, that hoped-for supplies, which literally are going to keep people alive, are not going to make it through. I think we're agreed on the concern here.

    I move that, noting its motions of June 5, 2002, and February 26, 2003, the subcommittee, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), continue its examination, begun in the second session of the 37th Parliament, of human rights and development issues in Sudan and recommend to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that a delegation of the subcommittee travel to Sudan for the purpose of monitoring and reporting on any human rights violations taking place.

    We have met with people who have recently returned from Sudan. We've heard that these atrocities are going on now. There is one way in which things could be mediated, and that is if the government in Khartoum is aware that Canada, with its reputation and stature, has a monitoring group, including MPs, that will actually be going to Sudan.

»  +-(1720)  

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I have a point of order.

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    The Chair: You're interrupting your fellow member.

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: I know. I just want to know if the last motion that was passed, which approved going to Sudan, has been taken off the table.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: It is off the table, as far as I understand.

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: We had approved the travel.

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    The Chair: The clerk advises me that we didn't approve travel to Sudan.

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    Mr. Bernard Patry: He mentioned two motions, one on June 5, 2002, and the other one on February 26, 2003. Were these motions adopted just by the subcommittee or by the full committee after the subcommittee?

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    The Clerk: By the subcommittee, Mr. Chairman.

+-

    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: I don't want to say that I have any objections. But a special envoy to the Sudan appointed by the government has already put out a report. Before we decide to travel, shouldn't we have her appear as a witness and get her impressions before we actually make a decision? That would be my recommendation to the committee.

+-

    The Chair: That's an interesting point. Perhaps, Mr. Day, as the mover of the motion, you would agree that Senator Jaffer appear before us next week. We have one witness. Perhaps Senator Jaffer could speak to us, and we could reconsider the motion next week.

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    Mr. Stockwell Day: I have full confidence in Senator Jaffer. I know that she has been over there before. I have heard from groups that greatly respect her and the work she does. They have respectfully informed me, and I have no way of checking it, that when she comes as a senator, there are certain protocol and diplomatic realities, and there is a question as to whether she is actually able to get to the areas where some of these atrocities are happening, perhaps because of the way the Khartoum government shields people from seeing what is really going on. If she is going, I think that's good. Perhaps there are ways she can be accompanied. If it can be determined that this group is actually getting to the areas where the atrocities are taking place, that will serve notice to the government in Khartoum. But if she's just in their hands, it's going to be limited.

+-

    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: If she has had these difficulties, I think we will have the same. That's why I reiterate the fact that we should at least hear from her and see what the difficulties are before we actually pass the motion.

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    Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Can I say something from my experience? Senator Lois Wilson, before she retired, came before the committee twice when I was sitting here to give the picture on Sudan, a similar situation, and we had Senator Jaffer's report as well. I think at the end of the day Senator Wilson and Senator Jaffer are special envoys for the government, but this is a non-partisan, all-party committee. That is why the emphasis in this motion on all members travelling is important.

    I do understand that Senator Wilson and Senator Jaffer are special envoys, but they are appointed by the government, and from the committee's point of view, we would see it as all-party. That's why this motion is more important.

[Translation]

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Rocheleau, did you want to say something about the motion?

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: Mr. Chairman, I missed the beginning. So I'm going to continue listening to the debate for a moment.

»  +-(1725)  

+-

    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: I asked that we meet with the senator who is somewhat responsible for the situation before making a decision on this motion. I'm not saying no, but first I'd like to suggest that the committee invite her to appear before making a decision.

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: For the senator to share her ideas with us?

+-

    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: Yes, because from what I understood from her report, you may encounter the same problems as her in terms of going to these areas.

[English]

    I don't consider, by the way, that a senator is...they're appointed by the government, but in fact their reports are made available for every parliamentarian to question. That's what I'm asking the committee, that we meet with her and we see what the difficulties are and in which areas. We may face the same difficulties if we do pass that motion.

+-

    The Chair: Could I suggest that she be requested to come next week and give us a report? She came in June, by the way, on this.

+-

    Hon. Eleni Bakopanos: I'm sorry. I wasn't a member of the committee.

+-

    The Chair: No, I wasn't either. But she can come, perhaps, and give us her thoughts next week. Then we could reconsider the motion a week from now.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: I would like to hear from her. Passing this motion today... you can see there's no date or time here. Obviously, there's a sense of urgency, but we could start a process of looking at how it would happen, some sort of moving it along—a budgetary stream. Time is really of the essence. It would not preclude her coming if we were to pass this today.

+-

    The Chair: We have about three minutes before the bells start.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: In that vein, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to mention that I recently had the opportunity to meet a representative of the embassy of Sudan at a reception, and he commented on the current debate.

    I don't know whether it's customary or in order for the committee to invite the ambassador or a representative of a country that we wish to visit for him to present the country's official point of view. I'm asking you.

+-

    The Chair: With all due respect for my colleagues, I must point out that two weeks ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations himself, Kofi Annan, used the word “genocide” in reference to Sudan. That was in connection with Darfur. In my opinion, if we invite the Ambassador of Sudan, all we may hear here is the Kkartoum party line. I have followed this issue for quite a long time and I can tell you that there's not much substance to that.

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: So it would be pointless to meet with him.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: Just before we call the question, none of us ever wants to look back and say we missed an opportunity to stop a possible Rwanda. Just passing this today would be a small signal that would carry a large weight. Just the fact that there could be Canadians on their way to Sudan to monitor what's going on could have a ripple effect as far as Khartoum.

+-

    The Chair: Do you have a question?

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: I just wanted to point out to Mr. Day that there are two parts to this motion. The first is to continue the examination of human rights begun in the second session of the 37th Parliament. That's the first part to study. The Sudan situation I think is in the first portion.

    The second part regards travelling. In regard to the first part, the study, there's no doubt that the subcommittee is entitled to do every study it wants, and it's also entitled to have witnesses. It could have witnesses back—somebody from the embassy, Ms. Jaffer when she's back, any other specialist on rights and democracy, FOCAL, or any other person who is available to come and talk about Sudan. But in regard to travelling, we're never going to get the okay from the government to travel in an area where our lives could be in danger. I don't even know if the main committee—

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: Why is the senator going?

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: The senator is going alone. A committee would be different. It's totally different. That's my opinion, but I don't know. I've never asked the government.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: All I'm saying is we're recommending it to the standing committee. Folks, we have an international emergency on our hands. We're recommending something to our broader committee.

+-

    The Chair: Just a second.

    Does Mr. Day wish to call the motion as it's recorded here, or do you want to break it into two parts?

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: As long as we vote on both now, we can break it into two, if you want.

+-

    The Chair: Shall we vote, then, on the travel?

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: The second part is “recommend”.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: Before you travel, you need to know what to study first. When we travel—

    An hon. member: We've been doing the study for a long time.

+-

    The Chair: Just a second, colleagues. The way the debate is going, Stockwell, why don't you move that we study it and see if we can get approval for that? Then you can move the travel.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: Okay, but I'm definitely moving both.

+-

    The Chair: Can we vote on the motion up to the travel?

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: That would be up to where it says “Sudan”. Okay, I'll move that part.

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    The Clerk: If I may, I need a little bit of clarity here about what is happening. Basically, by unanimous consent you're voting just on that first part of the motion.

»  -(1730)  

+-

    The Chair: We're splitting it, yes.

    We can carry on for a few minutes.

    Go ahead.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: I move the first part of the motion, as discussed.

    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: Remember, we're just “recommending” to the standing committee in the second part of the motion.

+-

    The Chair: Is there further debate on the second part of the motion?

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: I'd like to see you add one or two words: “recommend after the conclusion of the study”—not “conclusion”, but “after the beginning of the study....” As it is right now, the main committee will not go to ask for travel authority if you don't do the study first.

+-

    Mr. Stockwell Day: No, I can't. Let's have that discussion at the broader committee. I can't say “after a study”, I'm sorry. With all respect, we've seen studies, and this is a case of studying it to death.

    An hon. member: We're recommending an amendment.

+-

    The Chair: The researcher, who has lived with this longer than any of us, has suggested that perhaps you could add to the motion we've just passed, “which would include the possibility of the travel of a delegation”. Would that be acceptable?

+-

    Mr. Bernard Patry: Recommend “the possibility of travelling”? If you have it—the possibility—you get the okay. That's fine.

[Translation]

    The wording is “the possibility of travelling”.

-

    The Chair: Okay? Is that clear?

    (Motion agreed to)

    The meeting is adjourned.

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