(TibetanReview.net, Jul28, 2018) – A well-known former Tibetan political prisoner under Chinese rule was among a select group of survivors of religious persecution who met with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Jul 26. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the State Department-organized three-day Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on its final day.
Golok Jigme, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was jailed and tortured by Chinese authorities for speaking out against their oppressive rule in Tibet, urged the two top American leaders to encourage China’s leadership to work with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue and allow the Tibetan people to have true religious freedom. He has told them that under the current dispensation, Tibetans in Tibet were being punished simply for having a portrait of their exile spiritual leader.
He has also asked the US government to work for the release of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Niyma, kidnapped as a 6-year-old by the Chinese government in 1995 and never seen ever since.
During his keynote address to the ministerial, Pence has mentioned Jigme by name and said, “We are honored by your presence, and we admire your courage and your stand for liberty.”
He has described Jigme’s heroic personal story, noting that 10 years ago, he had helped to create “Leaving Fear Behind,” a documentary that features average Tibetans discussing China’s brutality in Tibet, and about his arrest, severe torture and detention until his release in Oct 2008. He fled to India in 2014.
The Ministerial event, described as a first-of-its-kind, brought together elected officials from over 80 countries, more than 175 civil society representatives, and over 100 religious leaders representing every corner of the world active in the field of advocating for greater religious freedom around the globe.
A video message from the Dalai Lama emphasizing the importance of promoting religious harmony, was screened during the event. The US religious freedom ambassador at large Governor Brownback called the Tibetan leader one of the best spokesmen for religious freedom.
The Gyalwang Karmapa and Venerable Demo Rinpoche, described as the Dalai Lama’s representative, attended the Ministerial, as did the CTA’s North America Representative Mr Ngodup Tsering, ICT’s Executive President Mr Matteo Mecacci and ICT Vice President Bhuchung K Tsering.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that this Ministerial would be an annual feature of the state department.