Dalai Lama warmly greeted by Barack Obama during public appearance, as Chinese media and officials fume
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was warmly welcomed by President Obama in Washington DC when participating for the first time in the annual National Prayer Breakfast. President Obama reiterated the support of the US Government to the Dalai Lama, saying: “I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, and inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings. I have been pleased to welcome him to the White House on many occasions and we are grateful to have him with us today on this occasion.”
Chinese media outlets have issued a series of reports denouncing the Dalai Lama’s presence at the event both beforehand and afterwards. The Washington Post reports:
The Dalai Lama is not a head of state and he formally gave up his political role in Tibet’s exile government three years ago. But his appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast, where Obama will deliver an address about religious freedom, has already drawn sharp objections from Chinese leaders who oppose meetings between the religious leader and politicians.
The Dalai Lama’s appearance comes a year after Obama directly addressed the plight of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims, another Chinese religious sect that has clashed with Beijing.
“When I meet with Chinese leaders… I stress that realizing China’s potential rests on upholding universal rights,” Obama said in 2014.
Before the meeting an NSC spokeswoman confirmed that President Obama is “a strong supporter of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and preserving Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions.”
Groundbreaking legislation to fight impunity introduced to U.S. Congress
Both chambers of the U.S. Congress have introduced a groundbreaking human rights accountability bill aimed at acting as a deterrent to human rights abusers worldwide. The new bill expands the scope of the Magnitsky Act of 2012, which created targeted visa and financial sanctions on corrupt officials and human rights violators in Russia, to include the rest of the world.
A clause in the bill directs the U.S. President to form a list of foreign nationals whom he determines are responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other grave human rights violations committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials. These officials will face visa restrictions and asset freezes. For more please see our full press release.
Dalai Lama one of top ten most admired people in the world
The Dalai Lama is seventh on an international list of the most admired people in the world, according to a new poll that gathered information from panelists in 34 countries. Bill Gates topped the international list compiled by YouGov, while the Dalai Lama came in first in France and Sweden, and ranked highly in other counties like the United States, Norway, Germany and Denmark. He did not figure prominently in the list of admired people in China and Nigeria. Pope Francis was placed just ahead of the exiled Tibetan leader in the international list. Learn more about the poll here.
Tibetan nomads hold vigil in Chengdu to protect the grasslands
A group of around 10 Tibetan nomads held a vigil outside the hotel in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, where an official meeting was being held on January 28. They were calling for protection to pasture areas and opposing illegal land acquisition.
The Tibetans, wearing Tibetan traditional dress, were detained and taken away by armed police about ten minutes after they sat outside the hotel where a session of the Regional People’s Congress was being held. Their current whereabouts is unknown. For more please see our full report.