(TibetanReview.net, Jul21, 2017) – The House Appropriations Committee of the US Congress has, in a report accompanying its State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill 2018, proposed to “continue to support democracy and human rights programmes for Tibet” and that “not less than the amounts provided in fiscal year 2017” be continued for such purposes, reported India’s PTI news agency Jul 20. This is a reversal of the Trump administration’s move to slash aid to Tibetans to zero in his maiden budget proposal presented by the State Department to the Congress in late May.
The State Department had described it as one of the “tough choices” that it had to make as its budget itself had been slashed by more than 28 per cent. However, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi had then expressed concern over the move.
The appropriations, if signed by President Donald Trump, will be effective for the next fiscal beginning Oct 1.
The committee’s recommendation is said to include $ 1 million for the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues. This is a position within the State Department and the Trump Administration is yet to make an appointment for it.
The bill is said to note that Tibetan language services of ‘Voice of America’ and ‘Radio Free Asia’ (RFA) provide the only sources of independent information accessible to the people of Tibet and accordingly recommends a provision of $42 million for RFA, including funds to continue its Tibetan language service.
The bill is also reported to recommend $8 million – same as the 2017 fiscal year – to support activities that preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development and environmental conservation among Tibetan communities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan autonomous areas in China.
For the Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, the bill is said to propose an assistance of $6 million to continue to lend support in the areas of education, skills development and entrepreneurship in order to enable them to meet their developmental challenges.
Besides, the House Appropriations Committee report is also reported to support continued allocation of funds to assist Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India – commensurate with allocation in previous years.
The bill is said to recommend that an ‘Economic Support Fund’ be made available for programmes to preserve Tibetan culture, development, and the resilience of Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, and to assist in the education and development of the next generation of Tibetan leaders from such communities.
The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress has stated in a report that the total financial assistance to the Tibetan cause was more than $24 million in 2014. Since then, there has been a gradual decline in Tibetan funding. The House Appropriations Committee proposes to reverse that trend.