The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “continue to insist on demonstrable improvements in the human rights situation [in Tibet],” on the eve of what could be her last visit to the People’s Republic of China as America’s senior diplomat. Secretary Clinton is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other Chinese leaders in Beijing on September 4-5.

In a letter dated August 28, 2012, and signed on behalf of the ICT Board by Chairman Richard Gere and Vice Chairman Gare Smith, ICT calls on Clinton to take a stern positioning in response to the deteriorating situation in Tibet that includes a continuing spate of Tibetan self-immolations (now numbering 51), mostly by young people .

“We ask you to engage your Chinese interlocutors in a manner that conveys urgent concern that the security crackdowns and re-education campaigns aimed at managing their Tibetan problem are, in fact, accelerating the deterioration of the Tibetan culture, steepening the decline in religious freedom, and contributing to a tragedy increasingly seen by the international community – as well as many Chinese in and out of China – as a potentially destabilizing failure in governance,” the letter to Clinton says.

While acknowledging the challenges faced by foreign diplomats in engaging China on Tibet, and the long break in the dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese officials, the ICT Board is appealing for an effort that could set the stage for “a more hopeful trajectory” for Tibet. ICT also reiterated its position that “a negotiated solution for Tibet, based on the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way proposal, is the best hope for the survival of the Tibetan identity and an enduring comity between Tibetan and Chinese peoples.”

The U.S. State Department consistently calls attention to China’s abysmal human rights record in Tibet and urges Chinese authorities to address the underlying grievances of the Tibetan people. Since Madeleine Albright held the position of Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration, Secretaries of State have appointed a senior official to serve as the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to coordinate the implementation of U.S. policy on Tibet and Tibetan programs aimed at advancing certain foreign policy interests. Secretary Clinton has been a vocal and visible proponent of human rights in China and Tibet, and she has met with the Dalai Lama on several occasions, as Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady of the United States.

The letter ended on a note of confidence. “Based on your history with Tibet and similar issues, we believe that you, Madam Secretary, will skillfully and articulately convey to the Chinese that international advocacy for Tibet is derived from an indefatigable commitment to fundamental human rights and the rule of law, including obligations arising from international law, held by the United States and shared by the community of democracies as a matter of purpose and principle. To frame U.S. support for Tibet as a policy with a moral, historical and even statutory foundation will create a legacy that could only strengthen U.S. efforts in the future.”