The Dalai Lama visited Washington, D.C. from June 12 to 16, 2016 during which he met with President Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Additionally, His Holiness visited American University and addressed a packed Bender Arena on “A Peaceful Mind in a Modern World,” and interacted with youth leaders at the US Institute of Peace and National Endowment for Democracy. The NED event bestowed posthumous honors on the late Tenzin Delek Rinpoche (accepted by his relative Geshe Nyima), who died in prison in July 2015 after 13 years of detention, and on the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). The CTA honors were accepted by Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
The International Campaign for Tibet was privileged to host a conversation between the Dalai Lama and our Board Chairman Richard Gere in front of a group of 200 invited members.
Details of his day to day activities during his stay in Washington, D.C. are available on www.dalailama.com.
The Dalai Lama’s meeting with Congressional leaders on June 14 and with President Obama on June 15 are a reflection of the continued sympathy and support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people that exist within US institutions and the American public.
The meeting with President Obama was the fourth one during his two term presidency.
The White House said: “The President and the Dalai Lama discussed the situation for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China, and the President emphasized his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President lauded the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach.”
The White House Statement further said: “The President encouraged meaningful and direct dialogue between the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences.”
In a first, the White House statement said that the President “welcomed the Dalai Lama’s leadership on climate change issues, and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of limiting global warming, including to protect the Himalayan glaciers and the environment on the Tibetan plateau.”
“The position expressed by President Obama after meeting with the Dalai Lama, once again confirms the strong support of US institutions for the protection of human rights of the Tibetan people, as well for a resumption of meaningful dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives to end decades of repressive policies in Tibet. By lauding the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and supporting the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, President Obama clearly reflects a correct understanding of the long-standing position of the Nobel Peace Laureate to preserve the unique Tibetan identity via the implementation of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “It was, therefore, an unnecessary concession to the Chinese government for the White House to repeat in this statement the longstanding U.S. position that Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China,” Mecacci concluded.
According to the Dalai Lama’s office, President Obama “walked His Holiness through the Rose Garden and saw him into his car before bidding him farewell” at the end of their 45 minutes together.
At a bicameral luncheon at the U.S Capitol in honor of the Dalai Lama, Speaker Paul Ryan said that “all of us are deeply honored to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama here today. The American people’s affection for him is well-known—and well-documented.”
Speaker Ryan added, “And it is that very simplicity—the simplicity of faith—that has captured the world’s imagination. It is almost as if he has no room in his soul for impatience or self-serving. All he has room for is kindness. It is inspiring to see.” He continued, “I still remember when he gave the opening prayer in the Senate a few years back. He said, ‘Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves.’ He said it is his favorite daily prayer. And I admit I can’t think of a better one.
Speaker Ryan concluded by saying: “So on behalf of everyone in this House, I want to say that we hope happiness follows the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet, and all people around the world who yearn to be free. Thank you.”
The full text of his remarks is available here.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met with the Dalai Lama and also organized a bipartisan meeting with Members of Congress and a bicameral luncheon at the U.S. Capitol along with Speaker Paul Ryan. In a statement, Leader Pelosi said, “His Holiness honors us with his presence and the powerful message of peace, compassion, and freedom he shares with each visit.”
She added, “As a revered figure to Tibetans and people around the world, His Holiness reminds us of our great responsibility to act to safeguard human rights, promote equality, and protect our environment. His friendship with the United States, and the respect he has from leaders on both sides of the aisle, serve as a powerful tribute to the righteousness of the cause of Tibetan autonomy. If freedom-loving people do not speak out against oppression in Tibet, then we surrender all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.”
She concluded, “With great admiration and affection, I was delighted to join our Speaker and our colleagues in a bipartisan way to welcome His Holiness back to the United States Capitol. May his example continue to guide our efforts to create a more just world.”
Her full statement is available here.
Another of the Dalai Lama’s event on Capitol Hill was a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Subsequently, Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Committee, said:
“We were honored to welcome the Dalai Lama and Dr. Lobsang Sangay today for a discussion about issues important to the U.S. and the people of Tibet,” said Senator Corker. “At a time when our country is grappling with an increasingly unstable and uncertain world, we are inspired by his universal message, which reflects many of our own deeply-held values.” “Throughout his life and work, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been a driving force for more peace and better understanding in this world,” said Senator Cardin. “It was an honor to welcome the Dalai Lama and the Prime Minister to the Senate today, and have the opportunity to speak to them about issues ranging from human and religious rights to the environment to relations with China. As I continue to underscore the importance of protecting and uplifting basic human rights in the foreign policy of the United States as well as in the work of our partners and allies abroad, the Dalai Lama remains a source of inspiration and guidance to me.”