Free Tibet statement on meeting of President Obama and Dalai Lama

Friday, 21 February 2014

Free Tibet welcomes the meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama today, Friday 21 February.

China has – as it well knows - no right to tell the leaders of democratic countries that they cannot meet anyone, let alone a spiritual leader and Nobel-laureate who is one of the world’s leading advocates for peace. What China is trying to do is draw a line in the sand: if it can succeed in this, Beijing knows it controls the agenda on Tibet. The rest of the world needs to treat this not as a point of principle from China but a negotiating position: when our leaders push back, China will fall back.

In this context, President Obama deserves praise for holding this meeting and for having met with the Dalai Lama on several occasions as President despite China’s bluster. Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama is no longer a political leader and what occupied-Tibet needs is not only symbolic acts like this meeting but robust and public support for political progress. Free Tibet also welcomes the concern expressed by the State Department over human rights abuses in Tibet but we regret that the US has reiterated its position that Tibet is part of China: that is a matter for the Tibetan people to determine, not Washington or Beijing.

-ends-

For further comment or information, contact Free Tibet campaigns manager Alistair Currie:

Email: Alistair@freetibet.org

Telephone: +44 (0)207 324 4605

www.freetibet.org

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