By Vishal Gulati
Dharamsala– The US on Wednesday reaffirmed support to the cause of Tibet by saying its people can practice their religion, speak their language and celebrate their culture freely without interference or intimidation from China.
Extending greetings to Tibet’s exiled Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday, whom Beijing regards as a dangerous “splittist”, or separatist, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said calling the exiled spiritual leader’s birthday an opportunity to celebrate “the message of hope and spiritual guidance that he has shared with the world”.
“And it is an opportunity for all people to recommit to ensuring the Tibetan people can practice their religion, speak their language and celebrate their culture freely without interference or intimidation from Beijing.”
Writing on Twitter, Pelosi said: “May his birthday bring happiness, health and security to all.”
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in March 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, believes in ‘middle-way’ approach, meaning greater autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence.
Joining the birthday celebrations from Washington on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “Today, we wish a happy birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose grace and compassion have served as an inspiration to all of us.
“We commend his dedication to the global Tibetan community and to all those around the world who share in his important message of peace and kindness and his commitment to equality, and importantly to human dignity.
“We join all of those in wishing His Holiness many more years to come.”
Pelosi’s decades old unwavering support to the cause of the Tibetan people and now her warm greetings reaffirming the US government’s support for Tibet.
This has elated the Tibetan officials of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in this northern hill town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.
They told IANS her continuing role help encouraging the Chinese authorities to re-evaluate its policies toward Tibet.
“The Tibet Policy and Support Act is now a US law that highlights the importance of religious freedom for the reincarnation process and also respect the aspirations of the people of Tibet who deserve a future that sees their rights respected,” a CTA’s senior functionary told IANS on Wednesday.
Pelosi, in a video message, said: “The US Congress, on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, House and Senate, has fought to hold China accountable and to support the Tibetan people, including with the Tibetan Police and Support Act, which is now law.”
“And we will continue to take further strong action to support Tibet.
“On this special day, I recall, as I often do, the bipartisan Congressional delegations that I have been honoured to lead to Dharamsala. There we were blessed to be received by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and we had the opportunity to see the aspirations of the Tibetan people firsthand, especially in the eyes of the Tibetan children we met.
“And I also recall, with great joy, His Holiness receiving the Congressional Gold Medal presented by President George W. Bush. To support those aspirations of the Tibetan people, may our people and leaders continue to work together to advance the noble cause of peace.”
“And may His Holiness birthday bring happiness, health and security to all Tibetans and the world.”
Interestingly, the Dalai Lama himself shares a special bond with Pelosi for whom he often says ‘personal friendship’ for her ‘loyal and unwavering support’ in the past decades to the just cause of the Tibetan people.
Pelosi visited his residence with a bipartisan US Congressional delegation in Dharamsala on May 9, 2017.
“As always, I would like to express my deep respect and gratitude to you for your firm and ongoing support for the Tibetan people, as well as the personal friendship you have shown me,” the Dalai Lama wrote to Pelosi to offer his hearty congratulations on securing a fourth term as Speaker of the US House of Representatives on January 4.
A US-Dalai Lama relationship began with a gold watch.
“As a boy, the Dalai Lama enjoyed science and mechanics. Knowing this, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the very young Dalai Lama a watch showing the phases of the moon and the days of the week,” the Dalai Lama frequently tells the story of the watch, describing the gold watch as magnificent and even took it with him when he fled Tibet in 1959.
A representative from the spiritual leader told IANS that since George H.W. Bush (1991), the Dalai Lama has met all the US Presidents, including Barack Obama on four occasions: February 18, 2010, July 16, 2011, February 21, 2014, and June 15, 2016.
Likewise, he met Bill Clinton and George W. Bush several times.
Every time the meetings prompted sharp reaction from the Chinese government.
The 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village in the remote Amdo region of Tibet. (IANS)