Sen. Richard Lugar, one of the Republican Party’s most influential voices on foreign policy, died on April 28, 2019 after a brief illness. He was 87. During his tenure in the Senate, he consistently supported the cause of Tibet, had several meetings with the Dalai Lama and challenged China’s misplaced policies toward the Tibetan people.
Lugar served as a Senator from Indiana from 1977 to 2013. Prior to that, he was the mayor of Indianapolis.
Lugar supported many of the bills on Tibet and the Dalai Lama that came up in the Senate since the early 1990s, including the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2007.
Following Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed clampdown on the protests in Tibet in 2008, Lugar came out with a statement on March 31, 2008 deploring China’s attempt to avoid responsibility and choosing “to attack the Dalai Lama and unfairly blame him for the protests.”
His statement said, “I have met the Dalai Lama several times. I know him to be a man of peace.”
Lugar also had this message for the Chinese government: “They should address the root causes of the unrest, which are related to Tibetans’ growing belief that their culture, religion and economic status are under threat from Chinese policies. The Dalai Lama has sought to engage in meaningful dialogue with China, and has the moral authority to implement a durable solution.”
The Senator followed up during a hearing in April 2008 with Deputy Sec. of State John Negroponte by asking what the Administration was doing to encourage talks between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama.
Lugar was among those Senators with whom Lodi Gyari, special envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, had regular contact in Washington, DC. Lugar’s last action on Tibet before leaving the Senate in 2013 was to support a Senate resolution in September 2012 that honored the “contributions of Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari as Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and in promoting the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Tibetan people.”
Lugar is survived by his wife Char, his four sons Mark, Bob, John and David and their families. The International Campaign for Tibet offers our heartfelt condolences to them.