The Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM) has asked Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to raise the issue of dialogue on Tibet when he meets Chinese leaders next week. Governor Ventura is leading a Minnesota trade mission to China on June 7, 2002.

Jigme T. Taythi, Executive Director of the Minneapolis-based TAFM, has in a letter to Governor Ventura on June 6, 2002, urged him to reflect the concerns of many Minnesotans about the situation in Tibet. He asked Ventura to convey to the Chinese leaders that China should begin a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives in order to find a negotiated solution that respects the rights of all Tibetan and that it should release the Panchen Lama and allow him to pursue his traditional role at Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet.

The letter said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been a consistent advocate of engagement with China and we believe your visit will help bring China towards the mainstream of international community. While your main mission this time is to promote trade we also urge that you reflect the concerns of many Minnesotans about the situation in Tibet. His Holiness has committed himself to seeking a middle way approach to resolve the Tibetan issue through negotiations. The United States has the policy of encouraging the Chinese leadership to respond to the Dalai Lama’s initiative for dialogue. Both Presidents Bush and Clinton raised the issue of beginning dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama when they met with President Jiang Zemin on separate occasions. President Clinton’s discussion was actually broadcast live on Chinese media.”

Minnesota is home to the second largest population of Tibetans in North America.

On May 9, 2002, Minnesota State Senator Ellen Anderson introduced a bill (S.F No. 3469) urging Governor Jesse Ventura to convey the concerns of the people of Minnesota regarding human rights abuses committed by the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Ngawang Chemi, a Minnesota resident and a Tibetan who was imprisoned in Tibet, was invited to testify before the Committee considering this bill.