By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamshala: Kelsang Yangkyi Takla, kalon (minister) for the Department of Information and International Relations of the Tibetan Government-in-exile on Wednesday congratulated the president-elect Barack Obama on winning the historic election to the post of president of the United States.
Barack Obama last met the Dalai Lama in 2005 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee event (File photo)
In her congratulatory message, the Tibetan minister expressed her wish that Mr Barack Obama’s courage and wisdom will guide the United States to peace and prosperity.
Kalon Takla expressed her hope that under the president-elect Barack Obama, the United States will continue to enjoy peace and prosperity.
She raised hope that given the United States’ strong advocacy of human rights and freedom, the administration under Mr Obama leadership will continue to extend the same support for the people of Tibet.
In July this year, at the height of his presidential campaign, Obama sent a letter to the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to assure him of his highest respect and support for the cause of Tibet.
“I will continue to support you and the rights of Tibetans. People of all faiths can admire what you are doing and what you stand for,” Obama wrote in the letter
Expressing regret that their respective travel schedules did not permit a meeting during the Tibetan leader’s the then visit to the U.S., Obama wrote: “I look forward to meeting you at another time”.
“I hope that this letter and your meeting with Senator McCain will make clear that American attention to and backing for the people of Tibet is widespread and transcends the divisions of our political contest in this important election year," he wrote.
In the letter, he said, "The right to practice their religious beliefs without punishment or obstruction is one that should be accorded the people of Tibet, and I will continue to encourage the Chinese government to put aside its suspicions and act in accordance with its own Constitution."
This was not Obama's first statement regarding Tibet or the Dalai Lama.
In a foreign policy address delivered in March, this U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
member said that the advancement of human rights must be a central U.S. priority. And he pointedly declared, "We can start now by speaking out for the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet."
Around the same time, Obama announced, "If Tibetans are to live in harmony with the rest of China's people, their religion and culture must be respected and protected. Tibet should enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy."
Before the San Francisco leg of the torch relay this year, Barack Obama issued a statement in which he joined calls for President George W. Bush to consider a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing games if the “Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people”.
Before the games, when asked whether he, as president, would convey legitimacy on the Chinese government's actions in Tibet by attending the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, Obama said, "In the absence of some sense of progress, in the absence of some sense from the Dalai Lama that there was progress, I would not have gone."
In September this year, while outlining his proposed China policies, Barack Obama argued that the protection of human rights in China and Tibet "Will not weaken China as its leaders may fear, but will provide long term stability and prosperity ... Protection of the unique cultural and religious traditions of the Tibetan people is an integral part of such an agenda."
Obama last met the Dalai Lama in 2005 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee event.
Barack Obama won a decisive victory Tuesday, becoming the first black president in U.S. history. He is expected to take office as the forty-fourth President of the United States on January 20, 2009.