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Inquiry: State of Political Prisoners in Tibet

Honourable senators, the People’s Republic of China’s abuse of human rights towards the people of Tibet has continued unabated for far too long. Even within the context of China’s authoritarian regime, Tibet has suffered among the worst.

Since the conquest of the region by Mao in 1950, innocent Tibetans have faced imprisonment for crimes they did not commit, are prohibited from practising their religion and are unable to express their freedom of speech.

Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch said, “ultimately the message of the Chinese authorities’ terms for Tibetans is clear: Political nonconformity will be punished severely.”

I thank Senator Patterson for bringing this important matter to the Senate Chamber. I will be using my time today to share with you the plight of a prominent 30-year-old Tibetan writer and blogger named Druklo. Also known by his pen name, Shokjang, he is known for his critical and thought-provoking articles about the situation in Tibet, especially the resettlement of Tibetan nomads. Shokjang was detained by Chinese authorities on March 16, 2015, by national security police officers and was sentenced 11 months later to three years in prison. No details of the charges against him have ever been released publicly and his health situation is unknown.

According to sources, his family and friends can only visit him under very strict conditions. For example, if Shokjang’s visitors speak to him in Chinese, they can spend 30 minutes together. However, if they speak in Tibetan, that visit is limited to 5 minutes.

The fact that Shokjang is being jailed for exercising his freedom of speech is unacceptable.

I call on all senators to join me in calling on the Chinese government to release Shokjang and all Tibetan prisoners of conscience.

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