By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, August 19: American lawmakers have called on President Obama to make Tibet a priority in his final months in office, publicly support the right of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet and call for immediate and unconditional release of all Tibetan political prisoners suffering in China.
A group of 72 House lawmakers led by Congressman Jim McGovern wrote to the President on August 17.
“We write to ask that you redouble efforts in support of the Tibetan people during your remaining months in office. We believe it is critically important to move beyond words to actions,” a press release dated Aug 18 on Congressman McGovern’s website http://mcgovern.house.gov stated.
“The Tibetan people view the US as their friend. It is time to honour that friendship with new, creative strategies to encourage meaningful dialogue, protect Tibetan rights, and preserve their unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity,” a three-page letter, addressed to President Obama posted, on the same website noted.
The White House had earlier announced that US President Barack Obama will visit China in early September for the G20 Summit, his last as US President.
In the letter, the law makers urged Obama to invite the Dalai Lama to every event, on every occasion, where his knowledge and decades of reflections would be helpful for addressing the world’s problems.
The lawmakers also urged the US government to facilitate the involvement of the Dalai Lama or his representatives in the global debate on climate change and its potential consequences given Tibet’s fragile environment, rapid warming and critically important reserves of freshwater, the report adds.
The letter further encouraged the Obama Administration, during the remaining months of its term in office, to focus on establishing a consular office in Lhasa, Tibet to help the US to observe and address the obstacles to freedom of movement that affect both Tibetans within China and US citizens, including Tibetan-Americans who seek to travel to Tibetan areas of China.
The letter also urged the President to implement a policy of reciprocity by making those senior Chinese officials, responsible for the policy of restricting access of U.S. officials, journalists, Tibetan-Americans and other citizens to Tibetan area, ineligible to receive visas to enter the United States, or tying Chinese access to United States territory to the opening of a consular presence in Lhasa.
Apart from Congressman Jim McGovern, other lawmakers who signed the letter are:
Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, as well as Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Tim Walz (D-MN), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), David Cicilline (D-RI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), John Garamendi (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), William Keating (D-MA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Nydia Velazquex (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Gene Green (D-TX), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Pedro Pierluisi (D-P.R.), Mark Takano (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Michael Honda (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-IN), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), John Yarmuth (D-KY), John Lewis (D-GA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Mark Desaulnier (CA), Jerry McNerney (CA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), John Larson (D-CT), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Juan Vargas (D-CA).