By Tenzin Dharpo
L-R- Representative Ngodup Tsering, Golok Jigme, Demo Rinpoche and Matteo Mecacci at the US State Dept. Ministerial at Washington DC. July 23, 2018. Photo_tibet.net
DHARAMSHALA, July 25: The United States Department of State’s ‘Ministerial to advance religious freedom’ is currently underway in Washington DC. The maiden convention of its nature, many say, is the Trump administration’s intent to put the religious freedom as a key talking point in its foreign policy discourse moving forward.
The 3-day event began Tuesday with representatives from over 80 countries with over 40 foreign ministers to begin discourse on the theme. More than 175 civil society representatives, over 100 religious leaders and survivors of religious persecution from around the world are taking part in the event from 24-26 July, sources said.
The setting placed China on the center stage with victims from within China, occupied Tibet, Xinjiang joining in to share personal stories of persecution as a direct result of Chinese government policies to restrict religious freedom. Participants from North Korea, Pakistan and Turkey were also present.
Former political prisoner Golog Jigme, North America representative Ngodup Tsering along with Venerable Demo Rinpoche (deputed as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s representative at the meet) and representatives from organisations such as International Campaign for Tibet as well as Tibetan activists, attended the event.
Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the inaugural day through a video message stressing on the importance of religious harmony and freedom.
Greg Mitchell, co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable in Washington said the event, “sends a message to the world, to the governments of the world, that we are building this global religious freedom movement now. Even if you are an economic partner, a national security partner, a partner in the war on terror or nuclear non-proliferation, the U.S. government wants you to be a partner on this now, too, to advance religious freedom.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We want this administration to make religious freedom a true priority for the United States State Department in every interaction we have with our foreign partners.”