Tibet activists lobbying US members of Congress to to sign congressmen McGovern/Wolf letter to President Obama to make Tibet a top piority.
DHARAMSHALA, December 20: A letter to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to exercise greater international leadership in improving the human rights situation in Tibet has received a large bi-partisan support from the US Congress.
As of Wednesday, 56 members of Congress have signed the Wolf-McGovern letter “strongly urging” President Obama “to make Tibet one of your top priorities for U.S. advocacy” and nominate a Secretary of State who will “champion” the Tibet issue.
“It is critical that the U.S. take a leading role and engage actively with partner nations on measures that could bring near-term improvements in the human rights situation in Tibet,” the letter first initiated by senior congressmen James P. McGovern and Frank R. Wolf reads.
“We urge you, Mr. President, to take a leading role in support of (UN Human Rights) Commissioner Navi Pillay’s statement and actively engage partner nations on measures that could bring near-term improvements in the human rights situation in Tibet and serve to de-escalate rising tensions brought about by hard-line and destructive Chinese policies and actions.”
Last month, Commissioner Pillay issued a statement
urging Chinese authorities to “promptly address the longstanding grievances” of the Tibetan people and to release detainees, allow independent human rights monitors to visit Tibet, and to lift restrictions on media access to the region.
The Congress letter blamed Chinese government policies of having “increased” the level of repression “leading to the self-immolations and protests by Tibetans,” and warned that “continued crackdowns by Beijing threaten to escalate the situation.”
Members of Congress, while welcoming the recent statements by Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero
and by Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner
expressing U.S. concern over the increasing frequency of self-immolations by Tibetans noted that “much more must be done.”
“We have the moral obligation to speak out for the Tibetan people and confront China about these abuses, to convey the aspirations for change that are being expressed so desperately by the Tibetan people directly to those who have the responsibility to heed Tibetans’ demands for change, respect and basic dignity,” the signed letter reads. “We ask that you make this a top priority and lead the way.”
Over the last two weeks, Tibet activists in the U.S. carried out a robust lobbying campaign, calling on their representatives to sign the Wolf-McGovern letter. Last week, over 60 activists led by the Students for a Free Tibet, visited over 425 congressional offices at the Capitol Hill urging representatives to sign-on. Other groups lobbied at their district offices, wrote letters, and called their representatives to sign the Tibet letter to President Obama.
Support over the formation of a Contact Group on Tibet, which would serve as an international mechanism to put coordinated pressure on the Chinese government on Tibet, has grown over the last few months.