From agitated Hong Kongers and members of the Tibetan diaspora to angry Indians after the Galwan Valley face-off and even progressive Iranians, an unusual coalition is taking shape in Canada to collectively protest against the Chinese government in cities across the country.
A series of such protests have taken place since late June when the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in Toronto staged a protest near the Chinese Consulate in solidarity with India and against China’s actions in Ladakh. Since then, protests have occurred in Vancouver, more in Toronto and Montreal. On Saturday, a rally was organized in downtown Toronto and among those who participated was Gloria Fung, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link – a platform for 15 groups countering China’s moves in Hong Kong including a recent national security law.
“I do not support China’s move towards India, that’s the reason why I participated in this rally. I would like us to show our solidarity to each other because we are facing a common threat,” she said of her presence at the Toronto rally.
The Hong Kongers have been agitating against China for the past couple of years and held a major rally in Toronto last August, as did Tibetan immigrants to Canada. Sunny Sonam, vice-president of RTYC in Toronto, said they had to take advantage of the reality that the world was “right now focused on China” partly due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and because of its actions in Hong Kong and the Galwan Valley.
And while the Tibetan community has held many protests over the years against the Chinese occupation of the plateau, their cause is getting a lift because of the current circumstances, as he said, “Because of that, Tibetan people are getting more attention.”
Other disparate groups have also joined in these marches and demonstrations against China in Canada, including Taiwanese and Vietnamese-origin Canadians, even Bangladeshi minorities. Toronto-based Salman Sina of the International Human Rights Centre in Canada helmed protests in July in the city and this Sunday in Montreal. A refugee from Iran, Sina said of his motivation, “As human rights defenders, we are seeing what’s going on with the Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong because of China. I decided to unite people suffering because of the Chinese regime. Unity is better than division. We have a common cause.”
Such protests also have resonance in Canada because two citizens, including a former diplomat, have spent more than 600 days in prison in China in what Ottawa has described as “hostage diplomacy” by Beijing in retaliation against the detention of a senior executive of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei in Vancouver in late 2018.
As Fung prepares for a large protest in August in Toronto, she is hopeful there will be greater cooperation and collaboration between these groups going ahead, as she said, “We hope to invite other communities and civil society organisations to come together for a unified voice.”