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canada-tibet-2013Dharamshala: – In a letter sent date May 27, the Canada Tibet Committee has urged the Canadian Commission for UNESCO to ensure that China immediately halts construction of a shopping mall and underground parking lot in the Barkor, a historic and culturally unique section of Tibet's capital city Lhasa.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee is scheduled to meet in Cambodia in mid-June. Canada does not currently hold a seat on the Committee but is a member of UNESCO. Parks Canada will represent Canada at the WHC meeting.

"Once the old buildings in Lhasa's Barkor are destroyed, they can never be brought back" said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. "It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that the Tibetan people never experience that loss."

In its letter, the Canada Tibet Committee urges the Canadian Commission for UNESCO to recommend that the World Heritage Committee conduct an independent investigative mission to Lhasa.

In 2004, China made formal commitments at UNESCO to respect and protect Tibet's architectural and cultural heritage sites including Lhasa's old city, parts of which have existed for more than 1300 years.

The Barkor is home to the Jokhang Temple, one of Tibet's pre-eminent places of worship. Every year thousands of Tibetan pilgrims make their way to Lhasa to circumambulate the Jokhang, many travelling on foot for weeks to complete the journey.

The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile on Friday, May 31 expressed it's heartfelt gratitude to Mr Jason Kenney, honourable minister of Canada for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism for his continued support towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Tibet.

Member of Tibetan Parliament from North America Mr Norbu Tsering presented the souvenir award to Mr Kenney on 24 May 2013 at his office.

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