Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota died in a plane crash on October 25 in Minnesota. He was 58. Senator Wellstone was a steadfast friend of the Tibetan people, consistently supporting legislation on Tibet in the Congress, including a resolution on the Panchen Lama and Tibet, which he introduced in April 2002.
The plane carried seven other people, including his wife, Sheila Wellstone, and their daughter, Marcia, and three staffers, all of whom were killed.
“Senator Wellstone was an unyielding advocate for human rights,” said Mary Beth Markey, U.S. Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet.
“We count ourselves tremendously fortunate that Senator Wellstone took up interest in the Tibet issue,” Markey continued.
“This is a profound loss for the world’s human rights advocates and, on a personal level, for the staff of the International Campaign for Tibet. We extend our greatest sympathies and prayers to Senator Wellstone’s family and staff,” said Markey.
Senator Wellstone was a staunch supporter of self-determination for the Tibetan people and an admirer of the Dalai Lama’s nonviolent struggle. He was very active in supporting Tibet with his constituents in Minnesota.
An uncompromising rights advocate, Senator Wellstone was consistently the sponsor of resolutions calling for the censure of China at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
In a speech introducing his resolution on Tibet on April 25, 2002, Senator Wellstone told the Senate, “I would like to commend the Tibetan people, who under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, have remained steadfast in their commitment to non-violence.
“While in other parts of the world individuals seeking freedom have employed any means available – including violence and terrorism – the Tibetans have not altered from the path of non violence, even while their homeland, their families, their religion, and their culture are decimated. To turn away from the Tibetan people in their hour of need, would send a message to the world that the international community does not care about what is just. I urge Tibetans to stay the course of non-violence.”
Senator Wellstone was a long-standing member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was Chairman of the South Asia Subcommittee.
Sheila Wellstone was nationally recognized for her leadership as an advocate against family violence and an effective and tireless advocate for social justice.
Senator Wellstone is survived by his sons, David and Mark, and six grandchildren Cari, Keith, Joshua, Acacia, Sydney, and Matt.