Panchen Lama

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama

On October 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 410 by unanimous consent. The passage of this resolution, along with the recent passage of the Tibetan Policy Act, which also urges Tibetan-Chinese dialogue, demonstrates strong Congressional support for Tibet ahead of Jiang Zemin’s upcoming visit to the U.S.

Introduced by Congressman Christopher Smith on May 4th, H. Res. 410 expresses the sense of the House regarding human rights violations in Tibet, the Panchen Lama, and the need for dialogue between the Chinese leadership and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.

“Passage of this resolution at this time should clearly indicate to Beijing the extent of Congressional concern for the Panchen Lama and the need for dialogue as they prepare for President Jiang’s upcoming visit,” said Mary Beth Markey, U.S. Executive Director for the International Campaign for Tibet.

H.Res. 410 calls for the release of the young Panchen Lama, abducted by Chinese authorities in 1995. Since then, he has been held incommunicado, and his whereabouts and well-being have not been confirmed despite repeated efforts by members of the international community to secure access to him and his family.

The resolution also cites the recent trip by the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy, Mr. Lodi Gyari, to China and Tibet as a “welcome gesture,” but it emphasizes the need for the Chinese government to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives “in order to find a negotiated solution for genuine autonomy that respects the rights of all Tibetans.”

In a Congress that has been consistently vocal on Tibet, H. Res. 410 is the latest in a series of measures to be passed, including the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (Title VI of H.R. 1646) which was signed into law on September 30. A Senate version of the Panchen Lama resolution, S. Res. 252, was also passed on June 4, 2002.