Dharamshala: The newly appointed Canadian religious freedom ambassador, Andrew Bennett said that he will be visiting the generally forbidden countries suffering from lack of religious freedom and lack of freedom of conscience.
Andrew Bennett was appointed as the religious ambassador by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper February 19 to "amplify the voice of the voiceless people around the world".
"I'll be travelling a fair bit to countries where there is a lack of freedom of religion, a lack of freedom of conscience, meeting with groups that are experiencing persecution. I expect to be fairly busy," Catholic Register, Canada's Catholic News Source Sunday quoted Bennett as saying.
Before visiting those countries, the ambassador is scheduled to visit its ally countries including U.S. and U.K.
The comment came after China's government has barred Canada's new ambassador from visiting Tibet as more than 100 Tibetans in Tibet carried out self-immolations to protest Beijing's repressive rule over Tibet.
The Canadian Press confirmed that Guy Saint-Jacques, the career diplomat who has also been Canada's climate-change negotiator, was denied permission by Beijing when he requested entry to Tibet.
Tibet's political leader in exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay, strongly urged Canada to send the office's ambassador, Andrew Bennett, to the region to investigate over 107 Tibetans who set themselves on fire since 2009.
"Religious freedom is one of the core issues causing self-immolation," Dr Sangay told MPs at a Commons human rights committee, currently looking into the drastic actions being taken by Tibetans under Chinese rule. The Canadian government said it regularly pushes China to improve its human rights record and were concerned about the restrictions placed on Tibet's "culture, language and religion."
Bennett made it clear that his area of focus will be international religious freedom issues saying: "My focus is on foreign policy, not domestic."
Stressing that Canada's business with the concerned countries won't compromise Canada's commitment to be the voice for the voiceless; Bennett said his office will stay tuned to its commitment.
Whether with China, Iran or Pakistan, we will be consistent," he said. While launching the office, the Canadian prime minister urged the religious freedom officer to track the day to day religious freedom situation across the world.
"In China, Christians who worship outside government-approved boundaries are driven underground and their leaders are arrested and detained while Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to repression and intimidation," said Stephen Harper.
The office of religious freedom is likely to operate under the leadership of Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper set a high bar as he named Canada's first ambassador for religious freedom on Tuesday. "Canada will not forget you," he promised millions of people who face religious persecution. "We will use our freedom to plead for yours."
The newly appointed religious freedom ambassador is a scholar, religious leader and a public servant. He has previously worked for the Privy Council Office, Export Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada in a variety of analytical, research and corporate roles.