Canadian Parliament supports Tibet’s self-determination

The motion recognizes that Tibetans are victims of China’s systemic cultural assimilation.
By Tashi Wangchuk and Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan
Ottawa, Canada
Canadian Parliament supports Tibet’s self-determination Canadian lawmaker Alexis Brunnelle-Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois introduces a motion advocating for Tibet’s right to self-determination, at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, June 10, 2024.

Canada’s Parliament has unanimously passed a motion in the House of Commons advocating for Tibet’s right to self-determination. 

The nonbinding motion recognizes Tibetans as “a people and a nation” with the inherent right to determine their own social, economic, cultural and religious policies, including the selection of the next Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

The measure demonstrates growing international support for Tibetans and their cause as the Chinese government steps up its repressive policies in the western region by eroding Tibetan language, culture and religion.

Sponsored by the bloc Québécois, the motion was introduced by party lawmaker Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe. 

“The purpose of the motion was for the House of Commons to recognize that Tibetans are victims of systemic cultural assimilation by China; and to offer unanimous support to the Tibetan people’s efforts and actions towards self-determination,” he said in a written response to Radio Free Asia.

The motion says Tibetans can claim the right to self-determination and freely choose their economic, social, cultural and religious policies without interference from external powers

It also says this empowerment prohibits China from interfering in the selection of the next Dalai Lama, whom Tibetans believe should be determined in accordance with their Buddhist belief in reincarnation.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to RFA’s request for comment.

‘Not forgotten’

The motion’s passage on Monday follows a series of meetings between Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Namgyal Choedup, the Dalai Lama’s representative for North America, and the Canada Tibet Committee with Bloc Québécois leaders in Montreal, Ottawa, and Washington.

“Canada’s unanimous passage of the motion reaffirming Tibetan self-determination sends a strong message to Tibetans in Tibet that their resilience is not forgotten,” Tsering posted on his X account.  

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Tenzin Lekshey, spokesman for the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, India, expressed the gratitude of the Tibetan government-in-exile to the Canadian Parliament for supporting the motion.

“This motion holds immense significance for the Tibetan people inside Tibet, addressing key issues such as Tibet’s self-determination, the future reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Chinese interference, Chinese assimilation policies, and the importance of preserving Tibetan culture,” he said. 

The adoption of the motion coincides with Canada Tibet Lobby Days 2024 during which Tibetans from across Canada travel to Ottawa to meet with lawmakers and express their concerns about China’s repression of Tibetans.

In December 2022, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously passed a motion endorsing Tibet’s Middle Way Approach and supporting the resumption of dialogue between Tibetan representatives and the Chinese government. 

The approach accepts the formerly independent Himalayan nation’s status as a part of China but urges greater cultural and religious freedoms, including strengthened language rights, guaranteed for ethnic minorities under provisions of China’s constitution. 

Additional reporting by Yeshi Dawa and Ugen for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.


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