Just as the U.S. Congress was getting ready to vote on its much-needed economic stimulus package that provides financial relief to struggling Americans, an unexpected addendum was added. It’s not unusual for members of Congress to sneak horrendous or unattractive items into larger laws, quietly passing them under the cover of more widely-discussed legislative topics. But this time, the quiet additions were miraculous, life-saving provisions for the tortured and massacred Tibetan people as well as their peaceful religious and political leader, the Dalai Lama.Sign the petition to demand that the European Union follow Congress’s example! The European Parliament must pass similar legislation protecting the Dalai Lama and his followers.
Traditionally, U.S. law has been relatively silent on the topic of the Dalai Lama even as the Chinese government drove the Tibetan spiritual leader into exile in India. Even after they kidnapped many of his associates, including the 6 year old Panchen Lama, who has been missing along with his family for 25 years. Even as soldiers continue to imprison, torture, and murder Tibetan Buddhists en masse — monks and civilians alike. These are all violent, direct attacks on the right to freedom of religion, which both China and the U.S. claim to uphold.
But the U.S. government has finally taken a big, bold, long-overdue step. The Chinese government has said for decades that once the current Dalai Lama passes away, it will refuse to allow his followers to find and identify his successor. Instead, they’re determined to find a new Dalai Lama of their own to ensure full control over Tibetans. Previously, there was little to dissuade them from this religious and political overthrow. Except now, since the international pressure is on.
According to this newly-passed law, the U.S. will protect Tibetan Buddhists from outside interference when it comes to naming the Dalai Lama’s next successor. If Beijing attempts to swoop in, D.C. will actually implement economic sanctions on top Chinese Communist Party leaders. On top of that, the law states that the government will refuse to let China establish any new consulates on U.S. soil until the U.S. is allowed to establish its own consulate in the capital of Tibet, Lhasa.
We should all be celebrating these breathtaking steps. But it shouldn’t end here. Every single day, the Tibetan people continue to be oppressed and brutalized simply for belonging to an ethnic minority that doubts China’s control over their region. In the past five years, Chinese officials have moved bulldozers into two sacred, highly-populated monastic communities and torn down monks’ and nuns’ residences, forcing them to sign agreements that they will never return, and herding them onto buses even as the Buddhists weep in anguish.
Some experts estimate that approximately 1.2 million Tibetan people have been murdered in a state-sponsored mass genocide.
The new U.S. law is an important step in asserting Tibetan people’s rights to their religion, their dignity, and their lives. Now the European Union must follow suit in order to make this pressure even stronger.
Tell the European Parliament to pass a law stating that they will sanction the Chinese government if it interferes in the naming of the Dalai Lama’s successor!