Congressional panel calls for “urgent” and “bold” action on Tibet on eve of Obama-Xi summit

ICT’s Bhuchung Tsering testifies with four recommendations to President Obama



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At a June 5 hearing on “human rights in Tibet” on the eve of the summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, leaders of Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission called on the Obama Administration to give new impetus to actions that will improve conditions in Tibet.

Commission Co-Chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) said we “have to do something bold and different” on Tibet, called for the next Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to “bring a freshness to the issue,” and labeled the situation inside Tibet as one of “cultural genocide.” He also urged the State Department to consult the Tibetan community on who they think would be appropriate for the post of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issue.

Commission Co-Chair Jim McGovern (D-MA) said, “We need to be thinking out of the box, we need a more imaginative policy” on Tibet due to a perceived “lack of urgency, lack of imagination” from the Administration, and called for like-minded governments to meet regularly to explore solutions to the Tibet problem.

A recording of the hearing can be found on www.ustream.tv/.

Representing the Obama Administration at the hearing was Charlotte Oldham-Moore, Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (the position where the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, currently vacant, has been placed since 2001). She spoke to the Administration’s efforts to promote dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, and to urge Chinese authorities to respect the cultural and linguistic heritage of Tibetans. She also discussed the Administration’s direct engagement with the Central Tibetan Administration, and the status of the appointment of the next Tibet Coordinator.

Bhuchung Tsering, Interim President at ICT, in his testimony offered four recommendations for President Obama during the summit:

1. reiterate the long-standing U.S. position on dialogue and sustaining Tibet’s cultural heritage;

2. call on China to address the “deep underlying issues” that are leading to the self-immolations in Tibet;

3. urge Chinese leaders to re-evaluate the ‘stability maintenance’ approach; and

4. insist on access to closed-off Tibetan areas.

Read a copy of Mr. Tsering’s remarks.

Also testifying at the hearing were Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, and Tsering Kyi, a Tibetan writer and blogger whose nephew self-immolated in Tibet earlier this year. Their testimonies are expected to be available at the Commission website.

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