Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Strong support for Tibet from next US President

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) congratulates Barack Obama on his election to be the 44th President of the United States and anticipates strong support from the Obama Administration for Tibetan issues.

"The Tibetan people will have a friend and strong supporter in President-elect Obama," said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. "This is a critical time for the Tibetan issue and we are confident that the Obama Administration will continue the existing support for Tibet and provide new energy for the efforts of the Dalai Lama to engage with the Chinese government. If we build on what Senator Obama has said about Tibet in the past, then we can expect even stronger initiatives from the Untied States in the future," Ackerly concluded.

Senator Obama has a strong record of support for Tibet and has met with the Dalai Lama to discuss human rights issues. Senator Obama attended a private Senate Foreign Relations Committee briefing with the Dalai Lama in November 2005 and has featured a photograph of himself with the Dalai Lama from that briefing in the media section of his presidential campaign website. Senator Obama has personally urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to resolve the situation in Tibet through dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, and this spring, when demonstrations spread across the Tibetan plateau, Senator Obama telephoned the Dalai Lama in India to discuss the situation. The Senator subsequently called on the Chinese to show restraint in dealing with the protests. Comments by the Senator on his phone call are available on the ICT website at Senator Obama was also a Senate sponsor of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act, which awarded the nation's highest civilian honor to the Dalai Lama in October 2007.

The Obama-Biden campaign has pledged to actively engage China on a number of issues, including human rights in Tibet and China's crackdown on democracy and religious freedom activists. The campaign has pledged to "be frank with the Chinese about such failings and will press them to respect human rights."

Among the senior foreign policy advisors to the Obama campaign is Gregory B. Craig, the first U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, appointed by then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1996.

As a long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden has been a consistent voice in support of Tibetan issues and a force behind the establishment of Radio Free Asia which is crucial to disseminating news unfiltered by Chinese state media to communities inside Tibet.

The International Campaign for Tibet thanks Senator John McCain for his support for Tibet in this campaign year and especially for his public appeal for the fair treatment of Tibetan political prisoners.

Senator McCain held a highly publicized meeting with the Dalai Lama in Aspen, Colorado in July, commenting afterwards that the Dalai Lama’s "nonviolence approach and his lifelong approach of seeking common ground around cultural and religious divides are an inspiration for all of mankind and to millions of Americans."


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