Thursday, November 12, 2009


Dear Mr. President:

I write to you as a supporter of the Tibet Support Group in Portugal to urge you to make Tibet a substantive and results-oriented part of the agenda during your trip to China in November. Furthermore, in light of the news just confirmed by the British government of the execution of two Tibetans in Lhasa, following trials that failed to meet even minimal international judicial standards, we urge you condemn these executions and to press for a moratorium on capital punishment in Tibet pending effective rule of law reform.

In your approach to foreign policy, you have stressed that deeds, not simply words, are needed to solve problems. And, in her visit to China in February, Secretary of State Clinton expressed her fatigue with rote exchanges of position with Chinese officials, voicing a desire for new and creative approaches. We look to you to generate and implement such approaches.

When you meet President Hu, we strongly urge you to move beyond pro forma statements of support for Tibet in order to help make real progress toward a fair and lasting resolution for the Tibetan people.

I further urge that the deliverables from the China visit include concrete progress on the following critical issues:

• The opening of a U.S. consulate in Lhasa, Tibet;
• The release of Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker who is being tried in secret for exercising his basic right to freedom of expression by interviewing Tibetans in Tibet;
• The elimination of discriminatory travel restrictions, both on visits to and within Tibet by foreign tourists, journalists, and diplomats, and on Tibetans seeking to travel within the PRC and abroad (including difficulties in obtaining passports);
• The long-standing request for access by U.S. officials to Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama;
• The provision of humane treatment and verifiable due process for all Tibetans in detention.

You are undoubtedly aware that the absence of a meeting with the Dalai Lama in October, thus forgoing two decades of Presidential tradition, was widely seen as a concession to the Chinese government, which has occupied Tibet for over 50 years and continues a fierce campaign to denounce the Dalai Lama. It is, therefore, essential for you to clarify your decision to meet His Holiness only after you return from China and to explain your Administration’s new strategy on Tibet.

Furthermore, I trust that when you meet with the Dalai Lama after your return from China this visit will take place in the Oval Office, a location appropriate for a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The American people have consistently demonstrated their overwhelming support for Tibet, and you are uniquely positioned to translate this support into concrete action that could change the course of history for six million Tibetans and signal to the world that nonviolence can triumph over violence and oppression.

I look forward to hearing about the progress you make during your visit to China in November.

Best wishes,


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