Tibet Weekly Update – February 21, 2014

A listing of the top news developments in and around Tibet during the previous week.

President Obama welcomes the Dalai Lama for third meeting

President Barack Obama meets with the Dalai Lama

President Barack Obama meets with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


The Dalai Lama met with President Obama this morning (February 21) in the map room of the President’s residence at the White House. It is the third such meeting between the two Nobel Peace Prize laureates. ICT President Matteo Mecacci said, “This meeting affirms the long-standing friendship and respect of the United States toward His Holiness, his message, and his cause.”

Not long after the White House announced the meeting, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a press release, vehemently asserting that by meeting the Dalai Lama, the United States would “seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relations.” In a further sign of Beijing’s quixotic apoplexy over the meeting, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson responded to a reporter’s question at a subsequent press briefing by insisting that, “(if) the U.S. president wishes to meet any person, it’s his own affair, but he cannot meet the Dalai [Lama].” The Tibetan spiritual leader first met with President Obama in the White House in February 2010, and again in July 2011.

The Dalai Lama began his current 17-day US visit on February 18, in what will include two separate trips to the nation’s capital. He participated in a forum on happiness and human fulfillment on February 20, hosted by the influential American Enterprise Institute, and is scheduled to hold a public talk at the National Cathedral on March 7, entitled: ‘Beyond Religion: Ethics for the Whole World.’

Tibetan self-immolator passes away in hospital

Lobsang Dorje

Lobsang Dorje, who set fire to himself on February 13, 2014.

The most recent Tibetan to self-immolate, Lobsang Dorje, who set fire to himself on February 13, 2014, in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, died while in hospital following his protest. His body was not turned over to his family, instead officials gave them a box containing his ashes and provided no prior notice of his cremation.

Collective punishment threatened in Tibetan county

Measures imposed by officials in Dzoege county, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, have come to light which threaten the immediate family of self-immolators and members of their communities with collective punishments. The measures, which represent a form of official retribution banned under international law, include monetary fines, as well as restrictive measures on travel and employment. On August 16, 2013, 32-year old Dolma Kyab was sentenced to death, after officials in Dzoege accused him of murdering his wife, Kunchok Wangmo. While the circumstances surrounding her death are not fully known, it is believed that Kunchok Wangmo died after self-immolating.

Chinese official sharply criticizes Western countries over Tibet issue

Zhu Weiqun, the director of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs CPPCC.

Zhu Weiqun, the director of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs CPPCC.

Amidst the backdrop of turmoil in Tibet, Zhu Weiqun, the director of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and former interlocutor with the Dalai Lama’s representatives in the Sino-Tibetan dialogue process, published an extensive criticism of Western countries’ concerns regarding Tibet and Xinjiang. Included in his scathing remarks, Zhu stated that “anyone who poses harm to China’s core interests would pay a price and the bottom line that a country leader shall not meet with the Dalai Lama cannot be crossed,” indicating that the article was timed to coincide with the beginning of the Dalai Lama’s most recent visit to Washington, DC.

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