International Campaign for Tibet President Matteo Mecacci will testify this week before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China about legislative initiatives on Tibet, including making important updates to US policy and advancing a major new bill.
The CECC’s hearing, “The Human Rights Situation in Tibet and the International Response,” will take place Sept. 30.
During the hearing, Mecacci will discuss the Tibetan Policy and Support Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation that will dramatically upgrade US political and humanitarian support for Tibetans. Among other things, the bill will sanction Chinese officials if they interfere in the Dalai Lama’s succession, as the Chinese government has long said it will do.
The TPSA is now halfway through Congress after it overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in January 2020. The Senate is now considering the legislation.
Mecacci will inform the hearing about ICT’s advocacy for the TPSA. Since the House passage, ICT members, along with the Tibetan American community and Tibet supporters around the country, have mobilized to petition their senators to support the TPSA.
ICT’s activities include collective efforts like the Tibet Lobby Day in March 2020; letters to senators by constituents; and an ongoing petition drive. To date, thousands of petitions have gone to senators from ICT members and Tibet supporters from across the United States.
ICT Chairman Richard Gere testified before a Senate committee in June, during which he highlighted the TPSA.
And in September, ICT held a special webinar on advocacy for the TPSA for the Tibetan American community, during which the organization gave updates on the bill and discussed further action plans.
Through these efforts, the TPSA has secured 20 additional co-sponsors in 2020 for a total of 25 as of today.
Through ICT’s Tibet 2020 campaign, ICT members have been reaching out to the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns to urge them to put Tibet on their agendas. Democratic candidate Joe Biden issued a statement in August expressing his support for Tibetan rights and laying out his overall policy on Tibet.
Looking ahead to his testimony this week, Mecacci said: “With just few months before the end of the year, we remain hopeful that the Senate will pass the Tibetan Policy and Support Act and reiterate its consistent support to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. Through our regular interactions with congressional offices in the past several months, we have been assured that Tibet remains high on their agenda, including the appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan issues at the undersecretary of state level.”
The other witnesses at the CECC hearing will be Zeekgyab Rinpoche, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (the traditional seat of the Tibetan Buddhist leader the Panchen Lama); Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch; and Tenzin Dorjee, senior researcher and strategist at Tibet Action Institute.