US Senate resolution upholds Tibetan prerogative to install their own religious leaders

US Senate.
US Senate.

(, Apr27, 2018) – The United States Senate has, on Apr 25, passed a unanimous resolution, expressing support for the Tibetan Buddhist community’s right to identify and install their religious leaders. The resolution calls any interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the religious process “invalid”. It also commemorated the 59th anniversary of Tibet’s 1959 uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day”.

The resolution, S Res 429, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy on behalf of himself and Senator Feinstein, Senator Cruz, and Senator Rubio, was passed on the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The lama’s fate and whereabouts has continued to remain unknown ever since the Chinese government took him away with his family in May 1995, three days after the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, proclaimed him the undisputed reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama who had passed away in Jan 1989.

The senate resolution affirmed the Dalai Lama’s declaration in 2011 that the responsibility for identifying his own reincarnation, the 15th, rested solely with the officials of his private office; that, therefore, anyone recognised through illegitimate methods or for political reasons should not be accepted.

“This resolution stands up for the Tibetan people’s inalienable rights and opposes any attempt by external actors, specifically the People’s Republic of China, to interfere in the reincarnation selection process. The unanimous support from the US Senate sends a powerful message to the international community and to China in particular. It sets a precedent for other nations to follow,” President Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration was quoted as saying Apr 26.

Expressing support for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and freedom, the resolution calls on the US Ambassador to the PRC to meet with the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was disappeared nearly 23 years ago along with his family.


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