China denies Canadian ambassador permission to visit Tibet
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:22PM EST
OTTAWA -- China's government barred Canada's new ambassador from visiting Tibet as desperate monks prolong their wave of self-immolation to protest Beijing's rule over the Himalayan plateau region.
Government officials tell The Canadian Press that Guy Saint-Jacques, the career diplomat who has also been Canada's climate change negotiator, was told to stay out of Tibet by Beijing when he planned a visit after taking up his new duties last fall.
Saint-Jacques succeeded retired diplomat David Mulroney, who in October 2011, was the last Canadian diplomat to set foot in Tibet.
Lobsang Sangay, the political leader of the Tibetan government in exile, is calling on Chinese leaders to grant access to Canadian diplomats, an all-party committee of MPs as well as the government's new religious freedom ambassador.
Sangay said that with reports of two more monks setting themselves on fire in recent days -- bringing the self-immolations to 107 since 2009 -- international scrutiny of Tibet has never been more urgent.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa declined comment.