Washington DC: Over 150 friends and supporters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, including Congressional members and staffers, State Department officials, Chinese friends of Tibet, civil society organizations, and Tibetans gathered in the United States Capitol Hill on July 11th to celebrate his 83rd birthday.
His Eminence the Karmapa Rinpoche graced the event and reminded everyone to recommit ourselves to support His Holiness’s endeavor to promote peace around the world. Four members of Congress joined the celebration and expressed their gratitude for His Holiness’s leadership in promoting justice and equality around the world. The Congressional members also reaffirmed their support for the Tibetan cause.
House Leader Nancy Pelosi talked about her 30-plus years of friendship with His Holiness and wished him a long life. Congressman Jim McGovern said he looks forward to the day when people will not have to flee China to lead peaceful lives. Leader Pelosi and Congressman McGovern have co-authored an opinion piece on the occasion of His Holiness’s 83rd birthday, in which they wrote, “what a wonderful birthday present it would be, if China would treat the Tibetan people with the dignity and respect that they deserve, and let His Holiness go home to Tibet whether to visit or to stay.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen spoke powerfully against human rights abuses in Tibet and said, “Tibet must become a priority for us here in the United States Congress…I can think of no better birthday present for the Dalai Lama than fighting for the freedom of the Tibetan people.” Additionally, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney talked about her recent visit to Dharamsala and her meeting with His Holiness. She said that the visit was a life-changing experience for her and she is fully committed to doing everything possible to help Tibet.
Other than the members of Congress, four important friends of Tibet addressed the gathering. Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy called His Holiness the foremost moral leader in the world today. Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese civil rights activist said His Holiness has dedicated his life to promote peace, compassion, and tolerance around the world. He said that we should make great efforts to ensure that His Holiness’s message of peace and compassion reaches China and touches the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.
Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet reminded everyone to not be complacent and redouble our efforts to work on the Tibet issue. Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, Chair of the bi-partisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said His Holiness advised him to demonstrate the Tibetan culture of peace, nonviolence, and compassion in his new role at USCIRF, which is an advice he said still guides his role as the Chair. U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback and Congressman, Ted Yoho joined the birthday celebration.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s representative to the Americas, Ngodup Tsering thanked everyone for their support and their passion and dedication to the Tibet issue. He expressed deep gratitude for the strong congressional support for His Holiness and Tibet. Representative Ngodup said His Holiness is the savior, spiritual leader, symbol and spirit of Tibet and that Tibetans are greatly indebted to him.
The event was a wonderful celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s life and legacy. While everyone rejoiced in the good health of His Holiness and wished him a long and healthy life ahead, there was a palpable sense of urgency and the need to redouble our efforts to find a resolution to the Tibet issue. This gathering was the first of its kind organized solely by the Office of Tibet.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, DC-