March 22 2004
Shoulder to shoulder Armenians and Tibetans band together in
WTN[Monday, March 22, 2004 10:37]
By Anna Sarkissian
Armenians and Tibetans, two peoples who “share the same fate,” banded
together last Friday in a gesture of solidarity.
“The noble Tibetan people are also victims of injustice and a
cultural genocide to this day, while the rest of the world looks on,”
said Azad Chichmanian, a member of the Ad Hoc Armenian Committee in
Support of Tibet-China Negotiations. Like Armenia, Tibet is a “small
but proud nation, working hard to gain recognition for crimes against
humanity,” he added.
Chichmanian said that a group of Armenians “saw an opportunity to
contribute in a positive way and help.” The Ad Hoc Committee joined
forces with Armenian student associations from Concordia, McGill and
Université de Montréal to host an information night at UdeM.
“It means so much to the Tibetan community,” said Thubten Samdup,
national president of the Canada-Tibet Committee. “It has been played
up on the Tibetan radio, in the newspapers. We feel like we’re not
Addressing the small crowd, Samdup said pressuring the Prime
Minister’s office to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a key
issue. He will be visiting the nation’s capital on April 24, which
happens to coincide with the day Armenians will be commemorating the
The Canada-Tibet Committee is not asking the federal government to
take a firm position on the matter, but simply to broker dialogue
between the leaders, Samdup said.
“We’re not going to beg for a photo-op with the Dalai Lama, we want
something tangible,” he explained. Human rights are the cornerstone
of Canadian policy, he said, and our nation is in a unique position
to take this leadership role.
For Samdup, it is a matter of preserving Tibet’s identity. “I
definitely don’t want to sit back and be a witness to my culture and
people being wiped out.”
Following the Canada Tibet Connittee president’s address, the Ad Hoc
group encouraged audience members to sign letters for their MPs,
asking them to support Canada-Tibet negotiations. “The message is, we
don’t want this repeated. We’ll stand shoulder to shoulder [with
Tibetans],” Viken Attarian, a member of the Armenian group, said.
As of yet, 137 of 298 members of parliament have signed on and
expressed support for the initiative. Samdup contends that if a
majority of representatives are sympathetic to their cause, Prime
Minister Paul Martin will have to consider taking action. “If China’s
going to listen to anyone, it might be Canada.”