Tibetans rally across Canada, lobby with MPs (With Images)

March 11th, 2009 - 10:42 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 11 (IANS) Thousands of Tibetans took out rallies in various cities across Canada Tuesday to denounce 50 years of Chinese rule over Tibet.
In the capital Ottawa, Tibetan leaders from various organisations met Canadian ministers, opposition leaders and MPs to seek Canadian pressure on China to make it start a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

The “Parliamentarian Friends of Tibet”, a group of about 120 MPs formed a couple of years ago, pledged to urge their government to put pressure on Beijing to end repression in Tibet and talk to the Dalai Lama.

“It is the first time that Tibetan leaders in Canada have lobbied with government and opposition leaders to put pressure on China, and we are very encouraged by the response,” said Tibetan leader Sonam Wangchuk, one of 30 Tibetans to meet Canadian ministers and MPs Tuesday.

In Toronto, hundreds of Tibetans and Canadians walked through downtown shouting slogans against what they said was Chinese repression in Tibet.

Reaching the Chinese consulate in the heart of the city, they shouted slogans such as “50 years is too long”, “We want freedom” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama”.

Speakers pleaded with the Canadian government to rally world opinion against the Chinese rule over Tibet.

Among those who spoke in favour of Tibet were members of the Chinese Rights Network, which seeks democratic reforms in China.

“This is a black year for us, and we will raise awareness about the terrible situation in Tibet throughout the year by staging rallies across Canada,” said Toronto rally spokeswoman Bhutila Karpoche.

Similar protests were held in Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver.

With more than 5,000 Tibetans in Toronto alone, Canada has the largest concentration of the community anywhere in the world after India and Nepal.

And Canada is one of few countries to confer its honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama. It did so in 2006.

Only two other persons - Nelson Mandela and former Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved Jews in the Second World War - have been given this rare honour.

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