(ICT) Washington, D.C. – On June 4 the United States Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 252, expressing the sense of the Senate 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.

“The fact that this resolution achieved swift passage with the unanimous support of the Senate demonstrates the widespread support for Tibet in the Senate,” said Mary Beth Markey, Director of Government Relations for the International Campaign for Tibet.

Senator Paul Wellstone introduced the resolution on April 25, 2002, marking the 13th birthday of the detained Panchen Lama and calling for his release from detention by Chinese authorities.

The resolution also calls for the government of China to enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives about the status of Tibet.

“Until a negotiated settlement is reached, Tibet will remain a contentious and potentially destabilizing issue for China,” Wellstone said upon introducing the resolution.

Introduced on the eve of the first Washington, D.C., trip by China’s next leader, Hu Jintao, the resolution helped bring China’s attention to the long term importance of the Tibet issue in U.S.-China relations.

In the two weeks prior to Hu Jintao’s visit more than 5,000 messages were sent to Members of Congress on behalf of the Panchen Lama.

In a Congress that has been consistently vocal on Tibet, this resolution is the latest in a number of measures including the comprehensive Tibetan Policy Act, with more than 120 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, and H.Res. 357, which proposes recognizing the Tibetan Exile Government in India as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people if China continues to refuse to work towards a mutually agreeable solution to the Tibet issue.

A House version of the Panchen Lama resolution, H.Res.410, introduced by Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Peter King (R-NY), Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Mark Green (R-WI), is pending before the House International Relations Committee.