Washington, DC – President Bush underscored the commitment he made to the Dalai Lama last year at the White House to raise Tibet with President Jiang Zemin by including Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. Tibet Coordinator, in his official delegation to Beijing. Dobriansky also accompanied President Bush to the October Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Shanghai.
Mr. Bush also stated Wednesday in South Korea that in his first official state visit with Jiang Zemin, starting Thursday, he again plans to talk the Chinese President “about the Dalai.”
“It’s critical that the Chinese leadership understands that the U.S. commitment to the Tibet issue is enduring and significant — and the participation of the U.S. Tibet Coordinator in these meetings makes that point very clearly,” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).
“We are heartened that President Bush and Undersecretary Dobriansky, whose mandate as Tibet Coordinator is to promote dialogue between the Chinese leadership and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, seem to understand that as well,” said Ackerly.
“The release of Ngawang Choephel a few weeks ago and reports of the possible release of Tanak Jigme Sangpo and other political prisoners should be seen for exactly what they are: welcome but long overdue actions that do not reflect any systematic human rights improvements in Tibet,” said Ackerly.
“China is beginning to play ‘hostage politics’ with Tibetan prisoners as they have for many years with Chinese prisoners,” Ackerly said. “This should hardly be seen as a significant step forward.”
In addition to important broader Tibetan concerns such as western development and human rights issues including religious freedom and political prisoners, the inclusion of the Tibet Coordinator was stressed as a priority by representatives of Tibet organizations who met with the Administration in Washington as part of a week of Tibet activism known as the “Mobilization for Tibet.”
In the culmination of the Mobilization for Tibet, heads of prominent Tibet support groups engaged in civil disobedience last Friday at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, the same day that President Bush left for Asia.
More than five hundred Tibetans marched from the World Bank to the Chinese Embassy where they rallied in conjunction with the civil disobedience.
In total, 22 Tibetans and Tibet supporters were arrested last week for engaging in acts of civil disobedience at the Chinese Embassy. As part of the Mobilization for Tibet, daily protests took place at the Chinese Embassy to draw attention to China’s occupation of Tibet.
Thousands of supporters around the world have taken part in the Mobilization for Tibet by calling, faxing, emailing and writing letters urging President Bush and the U.S. Congress to push for a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue.
“We are calling on President Bush to push for China to begin negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives,” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
“In the aftermath of September 11, Mr. Bush should support the nonviolent perseverance of the Tibetan people and demonstrate that committing to nonviolent conflict resolution is an integral part of opposing terrorism,” said Ackerly.
“Mr. Bush should also make it clear that the War on Terrorism not be used as an excuse to crush the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people,” Ackerly said.
The International Campaign for Tibet is calling on President Bush to:
- Push for China to begin negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives
- Urge for the release of the Panchen Lama
- Strongly express our desire to support and co-sponsor a resolution on China at the United
- Press for an invitation for the UN Special Rapporteur on Religios Freedom and the Special
- Rapportuer on Torture to visit Tibet this year.
Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva if there are not significant human rights improvements in Tibet