Hunger Strike

Tibetan hunger strikers Dolma Choephel, Sonam Wangdu and Gyatso in the 28th day of their hunger strike on April 29, 2004.

Lodi Gyari and Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet, have made statements supporting the courage of the Tibetan hunger strikers at the UN but expressing their concen for the strikers’ health and well-being. Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, have sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging him to meet with the hunger strikers or to issue a statement addressing their concerns.

Personal appeal to hunger strikers from Lodi Gyari:

Message to my three fellow Tibetans, Dolma Choephel, Sonam Wangdu and Gyatso:

I urge my three fellow Tibetans to end your hunger strike and heed the call of the relevant authorities of the United Nations, the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Paula Dobriansky, and representatives of government and the international community.

While I do not agree with the method employed, I nonetheless admire your individual courage and determination.

I am deeply concerned about your health situation and hope that we can find a solution whereby we can all continue to work for the welfare of the Tibetan people.

Kasur Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari
April 30, 2004

Letter from U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet, Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, to the Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama:

April 29, 2004

To: Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
From: Paula J. Dobriansky, Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
Subject: Tibetan Hunger Strikers

I urge you to convey the following message to Ms. Dolma Choephel, Mr. Sonam Wangdu, and Mr. Gyatso.

Today is the 29th day of your hunger strike. The personal courage and commitment you have demonstrated throughout this ordeal is inspiring. Now, before you suffer serious and perhaps irreversible health problems, I strongly encourage you to assess and recognize your achievements and to discontinue the strike. There is still much work to be done for Tibet and your strength will be needed for some time more to help shoulder the load.

The United States Government has well represented many of the concerns you have included in your demands and in your open letter to the U.N. Secretary General. For example, a decision was made by President Bush to sponsor a China resolution at the 60th session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The Chinese failure to conduct a higher court review of the death sentences of Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche after telling the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor that they would; the continued detention of Tibetan political prisoners; and the lack of religious freedom in Tibet, including as exhibited in the case of the young Panchen Lama – all issues cited in your demands – were among the reasons we took this decision. While the United States recognized that passing the resolution would be an uphill battle, we shouldered that responsibility. The frustration that I and many others share as a result of China’s introduction of a procedural no-action motion that prevented the resolution from coming to a vote, has not diminished our commitment to promoting greater respect for the human rights of the Tibetan people. Indeed, when our bilateral Human Rights Dialogue resumes, rest assured that Tibetan human rights will be accorded the highest priority.

My position as Special Coordinator is one manifestation of the importance the United States Government attaches to the Tibet issue. I have recently met His Holiness the Dalai Lama in California where I had the opportunity to convey the President’s continued commitment to urge China to resolve Tibetan issues through negotiations. You have my personal assurance that we will continue to work in international fora, including the United Nations, with whomever will stand with us to promote human rights and other Tibetan issues.

On April 30 Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), Co-Chairs of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus, sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan requesting that he meet with the hunger strikers or that he issue a statement on their behalves.

Representatives Lantos and Wolf said that their concern for the well-being of the strikers has moved them to encourage the Secretary-General to meet with them as they have requested via the open letter in the International Herald Tribune on April 27, 2004.

Lantos and Wolf said that they were pleased that several UN officials have met with or released statements on behalf of the hunger strikers and said that they appreciate the efforts made to show support to the hunger strikers by Acting UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Mr. Bertrand Ramcharan; Deputy to the Director, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Craig G. Mokhiber; His Excellency Ambassador Sichan Siv, United States Representative to the Economic and Social Council; as well as Mr. Om Pradhan, and Mr. Tsering Wangyal. from the UN Secretariat.