The Government of Canada has issued a travel advisory, urging its citizens to exercise caution when planning visits to Tibet and East Turkistan. This advisory comes amidst growing concerns about security and human rights in these regions.
The official advisory, released on October 10, outlines several key points of concern for travelers to Tibet. It emphasizes the necessity of obtaining a permit from the Chinese Embassy for entry and participating in organized tours. The permits for Tibet may be sporadically suspended, and entry into specific areas may be denied without prior notice. Violations of permit requirements could result in fines, detention, and deportation. Travelers are also warned about the possibility of local authorities imposing curfews and travel restrictions at any time.
Furthermore, the advisory advises travelers to make full payment for their travel upon obtaining a permit, recognizing that Tibet's security situation and government policies may impact travel plans. Increased security measures, a stronger police presence, surveillance, and restricted access to certain cultural sites are anticipated in the region.
Despite the risks, the advisory suggests that travelers who choose to visit Tibet should contact reputable travel agencies, the Chinese Embassy, or a consulate before departure. It also emphasizes the importance of staying aware of their surroundings, exercising caution due to heightened scrutiny on foreigners, and following security forces' instructions when stopped. In case of arrest or detention, travelers are encouraged to request immediate notification from the Canadian Embassy or the nearest consulate.
It is crucial to note that the Canadian government's ability to provide consular support in the Tibet Autonomous Region is limited, and travelers are directed to consult with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China for specific entry requirements in Tibet and other restricted areas.
The advisory also sheds light on the restrictions faced by foreign journalists and media workers in China. These limitations encompass movement controls, surveillance, delays or refusals of press cards and visas, intimidation, and harassment. Foreign journalists have faced arrests for national security violations, particularly when reporting on sensitive government topics in regions like Tibet and Xinjiang.
Concerning East Turkistan (Ch. Xinjiang), the guidelines indicate that local authorities have imposed invasive security measures, leading to the detention of ethnic and Muslim minorities without due process. Reports of extrajudicial internment and forced labor camps have surfaced, especially involving family members of Canadian citizens with Chinese citizenship. Travelers with familial or ethnic ties to Xinjiang are at risk of arbitrary detention.
For those visiting East Turkistan, the advisory suggests avoiding gatherings and demonstrations, carrying identification at all times, expecting heightened security measures, frequent checks, and significant travel delays. It advises travelers to follow the instructions of local authorities, noting the tense situation in the region, with abrupt curfews and restrictions.
Overall, the advisory serves as a comprehensive warning to Canadian citizens planning to travel to Tibet and East Turkistan, urging them to be aware of the challenges and potential risks associated with these regions.
Edited and collated by Team TRC