Around one hundred Tibetan American leaders and Tibet supporters from all over the United States have gathered in Washington, D.C. on February 29 – March 1, to lobby for continued U.S. congressional support for Tibet and the Tibetan people.
“The U.S. Congress has played an important role in the lives of the Tibetan people over the last decades, both in in exile and inside Tibet,” said ICT President Matteo Mecacci. “In 2015, Congress undertook several concrete initiatives, adopting resolutions and organizing hearings, as well as arranging a historic Congressional delegation to Tibet; this work continues to critically challenge China’s policies in Tibet,” Mecacci added.
Since February 2009, marking a new phase in the political struggle in Tibet, 143 Tibetans have set themselves on fire as a form of political protest. Almost all self-immolators have called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom in Tibet. A number of these protests have been followed by mass gatherings of Tibetans to honor and express solidarity with those who set themselves on fire. The Chinese government has responded to the self-immolations by intensifying military buildup and deepening the grievances felt by Tibetans.
“As Tibetan-Americans, we are engaging the political process,” said Tencho Gyatso, Associate Director of ICT. She added: “Living in a democracy, we have a responsibility to speak out on behalf of the six million Tibetans who are silenced by the Chinese government’s oppressive policies.”
The Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters will ask Members of Congress to continue funding Tibet programs, advocate for Tibetan political prisoners, promote access to Tibetan areas for US officials, journalists, citizens and hold Chinese leaders accountable on Tibet.