Washington DC — While describing the U.S. policy toward Tibet, is to support the aspirations of the people of Tibet to safeguard their distinct identity, nearly 40 US lawmakers wrote a joint letter urging US President Trump to appoint the position of special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the US Department of State as soon as possible.
"As members of the United States Congress, we write to urge you to appoint the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the US Department of State as soon as possible," said the letter signed by thirty-seven US Congressmen and Congresswomen.
"The preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetans in China have widespread support among the American people and strong bipartisan support in Congress. The core purpose of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA), the principal legislation guiding U.S. policy toward Tibet, is "to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity," they said in the joint letter.
"In order to achieve this purpose, the Congress established the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues whose mandates include to vigorously promote the policy of seeking to protect the distinct religious, cultural, linguistic and national identity of Tibet," and to press for "improved respect for human rights," they added.
"As members of the United States Congress, we write to urge you to appoint the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the US Department of State as soon as possible," they wrote.
"Since the passage of the TPA, the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues has been designated at the level of Under Secretary of State. We strongly encourage you to continue this practice, as a means of communicating to the Chinese government that your administration shares the commitment of past administrations and the US Congress to the rights and well being of the Tibetan people."
"Mr President, this is a critical time for Tibetans. The systematic suppression of basic human rights and religious freedom – most recently evidenced by the large scale demolitions carried out at the historic Tibetan Buddhist Institute of Larung Gar – continues unabated. The few foreigners who are allowed to visit Tibet do so in the face of many restrictions, and they report the creation of a virtual police state, with checkpoints on the roads and a pervasive climate of fear," the letter said.
It added: "Meanwhile, no talks have taken place between representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government since January 2010, even as millions of Tibetans have pinned their hopes for a better future on the dialogue process, continuously supported by previous U.S. administrations. The first step toward addressing all of these problems is to name a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues."
Leaders of the Tibetan community in the US refrained from making comment on the issue, saying they are still reading the budget papers. At the same time, they observed that majority of the assistance to the Tibetan people, including for Tibet, so far have been Congressionally driven.
The position of the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues was left vacant since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. The last US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues was Ms Sarah Sewall.
According to media reports, US President Trump has proposed zero aid in 2018 to the Tibetans, reversing the decades-old American policy of providing financial assistance to the community for safeguarding their distinct identity.
The current US administration now wants other countries to jump in.The State Department, which sent the detailed proposal to the Congress as part of Trumps maiden annual budget, described it as one of the "tough choices" that it had to make as its budget itself has been slashed by more than 28 per cent.
The act establishes in statute the State Department position of United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and states that the Special Coordinators "central objective" is "to promote substantive dialogue between the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives."
The Act, among other things, includes US government assistance for non-governmental organisations to work in Tibetan communities in China; an educational and cultural exchange program with "the people of Tibet" and assistance for Tibetan refugees in South Asia.