Today [July 6th] Tibetan Buddhists in many countries are celebrating the seventieth birthday of their spiritual leader, the fourteenth Dalai Lama. But in the Tibetan region of China, such celebrations are outlawed.
Born in 1935, in the village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet, Lhamo Dhondrub was recognized at the age of two as the Dalai Lama. This Buddhist monk was forced into exile in 1959, when Chinese troops occupied Tibet. “Most of my life has been spent as a refugee,” says the Dalai Lama. “During this time,” he says, “the most difficult and saddest thing has been hearing endless stories about the suffering of our Tibetan people inside Tibet. . . imprisonment, death by hunger and so on – endless stories of suffering and torture.”
An outspoken advocate of human rights, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1989. He said he accepted the award on behalf of the Tibetan people, who “confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities.”
The preservation and development of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and the protection of its people’s fundamental rights continue to be of concern. Authorities in the Tibetan region of China have continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killing, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetans for peacefully expressing their political and religious views.
The Chinese government tightly controls religious practice in Tibet. Tibetan-language publications and books are censored. Tibetan-language broadcasts of the Voice of America and other foreign broadcasters are jammed.
The U.S. recognizes the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan autonomous prefectures in other provinces to be part of China. The U.S. encourages continued dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama or his representatives to alleviate tensions in the Tibetan areas and contribute to the overall stability of China.
In addition, the U.S. continues to urge progress on human rights in China, including in the areas of religious freedom and political openness. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, said that the “lack of resolution on this issue will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and others.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.