Harper urges China to show 'restraint' in Tibet
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, March 20, 2008 4:17PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 7:54PM EDT
On the same day that hundreds of pro-Tibetan activists gathered on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged China to show "restraint" in the Tibetan uprising.
The statement was made to the demonstrators through Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre.
"The prime minister is calling on China to respect human rights in Tibet and to show restraint in dealing with this difficult situation,'' Poilievre said.
The MP said Harper was viewing the colourful demonstration from his nearby office window -protesters wore robes and orange and red sashes - but that the prime minister did not have time to personally address the gathering.
Harper's statement didn't address the possibility of boycotting the 2008 Beijing Summer Games -a move that many Tibetan activists want Canada to consider.
Poilievre was asked if Canada would boycott the Games but he would only say that Ottawa is "following the situation very closely.''
Gelek Badheytsang, a spokesperson for Students for a Free Tibet, said 500 Tibetans came in from Toronto.
"We had 12 buses and all of them were filled to the brim," he said. Protesters also came from Montreal and Ottawa.
Some in the crowd had banners that said "Have Your Olympics, Give Us Tibet."
"We urge the government to... put more pressure on the Chinese government to halt the violence right away, to open up Tibet to international press, as well as send a fact-finding mission from the UN into Tibet to investigate," said Badheytsang.
Badheytsang said the Olympics present a window for pro-Tibet supporters to highlight their cause.
"We want to use this opportunity to expose the heinous underpinning of this communist regime that keeps on suppressing millions of Tibetans and also Chinese," he said.
Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier also made a statement Thursday, saying, "I once again call on China to respect the right to protest peacefully. The most constructive option at the present time, I believe, would be for the Government of China to enter into direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his designated representatives."
Bernier said he had addressed Canada's concerns to the Chinese government.
China admits to shootings
On Thursday, China admitted that police opened fire and injured four protesters earlier this week during a riot in Sichuan's Aba county.
Xinhua, the official state news agency, released the news Thursday but also said that police acted in "self-defence."
China has already said that 13 "innocent civilians" were killed in anti-government riots but Thursday's report was the first admission of injuries caused by Chinese forces, reports Reuters.
China also acknowledged Thursday that anti-government riots have reached other provinces in the country after moving through Tibet last week.
The protests started peacefully in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, last week with violent riots beginning on March 14.
Tibetan exile groups claim that 80 people have died.
The Dalai Lama said Thursday he was willing to meet with Chinese leaders as pro-Tibet protests continue to spread.
In India, the Dalai Lama said he'd particularly like to hold talks with President Hu Jintao.
"It's a position he's long held," CTV's Steve Chao reported Thursday from Beijing.
"He, unlike some of the more diehard Tibetan groups, has not pushed for independence but for more autonomy for Tibet."
The Dalai Lama said he would not travel to Beijing for talks but would be "happy" to meet elsewhere.
China 'concerned' with Britain
China has said they are "seriously concerned" with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's plan to meet with the Dalai Lama, saying that Brown should not support Tibet's spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama is a "political refugee engaged in activities of splitting China under the camouflage of religion,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in remarks issued late Wednesday by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Earlier Wednesday, China called the Dalai Lama a "wolf in monk's robes" and said a "life-and-death battle" is underway with his followers.
"China still views the Dalai Lama with a high degree of suspicion," said Chao.
"They have accused him of being one of the masterminds behind the violent protests we've seen in recent weeks."
China has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the protests which began as peaceful demonstrations ahead of this summer's Beijing Olympics.