(TibetanReview.net, Jun23, 2017) – Thirty-seven members of the US Congress have on Jun 21 written a joint letter to President Donald Trump, seeking the earliest possible appointment of a Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues at the State Department, a position mandated by the Tibet Policy Act of 2002. They have called for this appointment as the Trump administration’s first step towards addressing the issue of Tibet.
The lawmakers have pointed out: “The preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetans in China have widespread support among the American people and strong bipartisan support in Congress. The core purpose of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA), the principal legislation guiding US policy toward Tibet, is ‘to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity’.”
And they have explained: “In order to achieve this purpose, the Congress established the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues whose mandates include ‘to vigorously promote the policy of seeking to protect the distinct religious, cultural, linguistic and national identity of Tibet,’ and to press for ‘improved respect for human rights’.”
The lawmakers have also pointed out that since the Act’s passage, the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues has been designated at the level of Under Secretary of State. “We strongly encourage you to continue this practice, as a means of communicating to the Chinese government that your administration shares the commitment of past administrations and the US Congress to the rights and well being of the Tibetan people.”
Explaining the gravity of the situation in Chinese ruled Tibet in several aspects, the 37 members of the US Congress have pointed out: “Mr President, this is a critical time for Tibetans. The systematic suppression of basic human rights and religious freedom – most recently evidenced by the large scale demolitions carried out at the historic Tibetan Buddhist Institute of Larung Gar – continues unabated. The few foreigners who are allowed to visit Tibet do so in the face of many restrictions, and they report the creation of a virtual police state, with checkpoints on the roads and a pervasive climate of fear. Meanwhile, no talks have taken place between representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government since January 2010, even as millions of Tibetans have pinned their hopes for a better future on the dialogue process, continuously supported by previous US administrations. The first step toward addressing all of these problems is to name a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.”
All presidents of the US have appointed a Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues since the Act’s passage, with the last one, during the Obama Administration, being Ms Sarah Sewall.
President Trump has so far not made any comment on the Tibet issue and his administration has suggested zero Tibetan-specific aid in its maiden budget.