Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay meeting with Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet members (from l to r) MP David Sweet, MP H Albrecht, Herb Davis, Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism)in Ottawa on February 25, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, February 27: After China barred Australia’s top diplomat from visiting Tibet, it is now being reported that Canada’s ambassador to China was also turned down from travelling to the restive region where more than 100 Tibetans have self-immolated protesting China’s rule.
The Canadian Press on Tuesday cited an unnamed “senior official” as saying that Guy Saint-Jacques was told to stay out of Tibet when he planned a visit after taking up his new duties last fall.
“The Chinese haven’t really allowed other diplomats to visit,” the report quoted the official as saying. “Getting permission to travel to that area is subject to getting approval from the Chinese government to be allowed there.”
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, who is currently in Ottawa, also corroborated the reports while speaking to the media shortly after testifying before the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which is in the midst of a study entitled, “The Human Rights Situation in Tibetan Areas of China.”
“I was told that efforts were made but so far the staff members of the Canadian embassy have not been able to visit Tibetan areas,” Sikyong Sangay told reporters Tuesday. “The increasing cases of self-immolations and the repressive policies of the Chinese government have unfortunately led to the suffering of the Tibetan people.”
Sikyong Sangay this week urged Canada to send
its newly instated Ambassador for Religious Freedom Andrew Bennett to Tibet to investigate the situation there. He noted that religious freedom is “very much at the core” of the self-immolation protests among other issues.
On February 25, the de facto Tibetan prime minister met with top Canadian officials, including MP’s from the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet group, and Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Citizenship, M Jason Kenney.
Earlier this month, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr told a Senate’s estimates hearing in Canberra that the country’s ambassador to China has failed to get Beijing's nod to visit Tibet after almost a year of trying.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced in March 2012 that Ambassador Frances Adamson would seek to travel to Tibet to talk to locals and look into why a growing number of Tibetan pro-independence protesters were setting themselves on fire.
"Unfortunately I'm not able to share encouraging news," Senator Carr said.