By Raul Jaime
It’s been 41 years since the Tibetan uprising against the oppression by the government of China occurred. To commemorate this event, Students for a Free Tibet and the Canada Tibet Committee organized a loud, but peaceful, protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in downtown Calgary in the late afternoon on Fri., Mar. 10.
"We want Free Tibet" and "China out of Tibet," were two of the chants the 75 protesters repeated in front of the Consulate while waving banners in -5 degree weather. The group was mainly composed of University of Calgary students and Chinese people of all ages. Among the speakers were CTC President Nima Dorjee and Reform Member of Parliament Rob Anders.
"[Our goal is to] extend awareness about the Tibet issue," said Executive Director of SFT, Stephanie Garrett.
Protesters had most of the same goals in mind–to make people aware of the Tibet issue and to send a message to the Chinese and Canadian Governments. According to Garrett, the number of protesters has doubled in just one year.
"This protest is aimed just as much at the Canadian government as it is at the Chinese government," added Garrett.
According to organizers, the Chinese government has oppressed the people of Tibet for 41 years, and the human rights record is below international standards. Still, the Canadian government directs most of its aid budget to China. Some argue that the economic trade between China and Canada is the main reason for this aid, but Dorjee disagrees.
"Canada had a $3 billion deficit trading with China in 1993," said Nima Dorjee, the first Tibetan to graduate from the U of C.
Dorjee, who grew up in a Tibetan refugee camp, hopes that with protests like this, larger and more powerful groups–even countries–will start to pressure the Chinese government to improve their human rights record and the situation in Tibet.
Earlier that Friday, SFT raised a Tibetan flag in front of MacEwan Student Centre to express their solidarity with the Tibetans.
"[The flag raising] was an excellent achievement for Students for a Free Tibet," said Garrett. "We had to do a lot of work to get this flag raised."
For more information, visit: www.tibet.ca.