Seattle, Washington: During a virtual meeting on 17 August at 12 noon, members of Washington State Voluntary Tibet Advocacy Group (V-TAG), namely Pema Choephel, Dechen Bartso, and Lobsang Tsering, met with Katherine Gillespie, the staffer of Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, of the 3rd congressional district. During the half-hour meeting, Lobsang Tsering introduced each group member and outlined their primary objective, which was to gain co-sponsorship and support from Congresswoman Marie Perez for the China-Tibet Conflict Act of 2023 (HR-533).
During the meeting, Gillespie was given a brief overview of the Seattle-based V-TAG members as well as the members of the Tibetan Associations in Washington’s previous engagements with four other representatives from Washington State, as well as one senator, all of which had taken place over the past few months. These prior discussions were held with the objective of increasing awareness of the ongoing crisis in Tibet and examining possible avenues for the United States government to establish a dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government through the proposed legislation.
As part of his brief overview of the Tibetan community’s presence in his constituency, Pema Choephel noted that there are approximately 64 Tibetan families spread among four cities: Camas, Vancouver, Salmon Creek, and Battleground, with Vancouver having the highest population. Pema provided a brief historical account, detailing the arrival of the first group of Tibetan lumber workers in Maine in the early 1970s. Additionally, he highlighted the subsequent wave of families who arrived during the Resettlement Project in the early 1990s.
Dechen Bartso presented an in-depth presentation regarding the importance of this US-Tibet bill for Tibetans residing in Tibet, as well as its potential to uplift the spirits of Tibetans in exile. In her presentation, Dechen focused heavily on the implications of the bill, underlining that its passage would enable the US government to engage directly with its Chinese counterparts during bilateral meetings once the bill is passed. Furthermore, she stated that the bill may exert pressure on the Chinese government to take active measures to safeguard Tibetan culture and religion.
A major component of the bill is also the strengthening of the authority of the US Special Coordinator, enabling them to advocate vigorously for the participation of the Chinese government in negotiations alongside the Central Tibetan Administration. After congratulating the Congresswoman, Bartso expressed her strong desire for an in-person meeting in the near future.
In her remarks, Katherine Gillespie promised to bring these crucial matters to the attention of the congresswoman and to respond as soon as possible.
– Filed by the V-TAG Seattle, Washington