Sikyong, Richard Gere, Mitt Romney

The Tibetan Sikyong (President) met with Congressional leaders, Biden administration officials, local Tibetan Americans, Washington, DC journalists and more during a productive and busy trip to the US capital last week.

Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the democratically elected leader of the exile-based Central Tibetan Administration, visited Washington Oct. 15-20. It was his second visit this year following a February trip where members of Congress reintroduced the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, a bipartisan bill that will pressure China’s government to resume negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys on a peaceful resolution to China’s decades-long occupation of Tibet.

During this visit, Penpa again built support for the bill and for the Tibetan cause, calling on Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., James Risch, R-Idaho, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

In the House, he met with Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as well as Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michelle Steel, R-Calif.

The Sikyong also visited the State Department for a meeting with Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya, who serves as the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.

‘Beacon of hope’

In many of his engagements, Penpa was joined by Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to North America Namgyal Choedup and other staff from the Office of Tibet. He was also accompanied by International Campaign for Tibet Chairman Richard Gere, President Tencho Gyatso and other ICT leaders.

“This week on Capitol Hill, I expressed gratitude to our stalwart ally Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi & others in Congress whose support has bolstered our cause for over 6 decades,” the Sikyong wrote on Instagram. “We discussed how Tibet’s plight deepens every day, its history being erased from the minds of future generations.

“Amidst global chaos, Tibet remains a beacon of hope, championing mutual coexistence & dialogue. For six decades, Tibetans in Tibet have embraced truth & nonviolence. Their spirit and perseverance in the face of intensifying repression is inspiring a world riddled with violence.”

Other events

One of the highlights of the Sikyong’s week in Washington was a 16th anniversary celebration of the Dalai Lama’s Congressional Gold Medal, attended by current and former members of Congress, as well as new and old friends of Tibet. Attendees included Pelosi, McGovern and Reps. Nicole Malliotakis, R-NY, Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Chris Smith, R-NJ, as well as former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Penpa also spoke to reporters at a “Headliners Newsmaker” event at the National Press Club.

In addition, he addressed members of the local Tibetan American community to brief them on the work of the Tibetan Kashag (cabinet).

Penpa’s time in Washington was part of a larger visit to the Western hemisphere that has included stops in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and other areas of the United States.

After his stay in Washington, Penpa moved north for engagements in New York and Canada. He will eventually return to Dharamsala, India, headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration.