The day before departing on their bike ride, the riders went to lobby several Members of Congress from Minnesota on Capitol Hill. In meetings with Congressman Jim Ramstad, Congressman Keith Ellison, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Norm Coleman, the Tibetans told their story to a very receptive audience. The legislative staff expressed strong support for the rider’s efforts.
Hearing on RFA/VOA Tibetan language cuts
A second group simultaneously attended a hearing by the House Appropriations Committee that discussed the budget cuts for VOA and RFA Tibetan services. Tibetans packed the hearing room, and monks filled an entire row. Members of Congress were clearly moved by the presence of so many Tibetans and monks, and came out to greet them afterwards. Chairwoman Lowey, Reps. Wolf and McCollum urged them not to worry, and said they would seek to stop the proposed cuts.
Vice President of the International Campaign for Tibet, Bhuchung K. Tsering, and the President of the Capital Area Tibetan Association, Lundup D. Amdo, made remarks before the start of the bike ride. They commended the dedication of the riders who include two American supporters. Mr. Penpa K. Amje, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota outlined the objectives of the bike ride and gave an emotional speech on why we should all be concerned about the status of the Panchen Lama and the Tibetan issue in general.