Tibet’s exiled political and spiritual leader, the XIV Dalai Lama, will arrive in Washington, D.C., next week following visits to seven other U.S. cities.
In his first visit to the capitol since the new Administration has been in place, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to meet with President Bush, Secretary Powell and Members of Congress.
“We are calling on President Bush to welcome the Dalai Lama to the oval office and honor one of the world’s greatest advocates of non-violence and human rights,” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
Meetings with the Administration are expected to cover a range of topics including continued U.S. support for his efforts to negotiate with Chinese leaders on the future of Tibet.
Despite growing international concern, China has so far refused to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives.
Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday named a senior State Department official, Paula Dobriansky, as the new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. As her central objective in this role, Dobriansky, who is also Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, will work to promote dialogue between the Chinese leadership and the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama’s visit to comes two weeks after the first comprehensive legislation on Tibet, the Tibetan Policy Act of 2001, was introduced in the House and the Senate. The legislation “provides political and programmatic support for Tibetans until a just political solution is achieved,” said Ackerly.
The visit of the Dalai Lama also coincides with a major anniversary China is using to commemorate its takeover of Tibet.
On May 23, 1951, following its military invasion, China coerced a Tibetan delegation to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” which provided the terms and conditions of Chinese rule in Tibet. The Dalai Lama repudiated the Agreement before he entered India in 1959.
Chinese authorities have notified government cultural centers, community groups and schools that participation in the celebrations is “an important political responsibility.” The state-run media calls the anniversary “a rare chance to carry out broad and penetrating ideological education [and praise]and the important contributions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in peacefully liberating Tibet.”
“While the Dalai Lama meets with the President, Chinese authorities in Tibet will be forcing Tibetans to celebrate the day which marked the demise of the Tibetan state,” said Ackerly.
During the Dalai Lama’s two-day visit, he will also be giving the commencement address for John’s Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Constitution Hall, meeting with the Tibetan community and holding a series of private meetings and consultations.