By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, September 12: The US government has approved 17 million US Dollars in aid to the Tibetan government in exile (Central Tibetan Administration) in its 2018 budget. The aid will be to help the CTA preserve Tibetan ‘cultural traditions, promote sustainable development and improve education system’.
The Appropriations Committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, continuing its support for Tibet related democracy and human rights programs, have directed that ‘not less than the amounts provided in fiscal year 2017 be continued for such purposes’ under the heading of ‘Economic Support Fund’.
“The Committee includes $8 million, same as the fiscal year 2017, to support activities that preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and in other Tibetan autonomous areas in the PRC,” the Congressional bill states.
It has also made $3 million in grant to strengthen the capacity of Tibetan institutions and governance.
Noting the developmental challenges faced by the Tibetan communities in the South Asia, the Committee also included $6 million to continue to support Tibetan communities in India and Nepal in the areas of education, skills development, and entrepreneurship.
Expressing its supports to continue the fund allocated to assist the Tibetan refugees in Nepal India, the Committee in its report said, “The Committee is concerned about reports that Nepalese officials have handed over Tibetan refugees to Chinese border authorities, in contravention of Nepal’s international obligations to protect refugees fleeing persecution.”
“The Committee supports efforts by the Secretary of State to work with the Government of Nepal to provide safe transit for Tibetan refugees and legal protections to Tibetans residing in Nepal,” it further stated.
The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill 2018 also recommended $1 million for the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, which has been vacant since Sarah Sewall’s resignation and the Trump administration yet to designate a new special coordinator.
The Special Coordinator’s central objective is to promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives with a view to resolving differences.
The bill also provides huge support to the Tibetan service of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, which the committee sees as ‘the only sources of independent information accessible to the people of Tibet’.