NORTHAMPTON – The recently passed federal omnibus bill included $ 900 billion in COVID-19 assistance, with loans for businesses and direct payments to Americans, $ 1.4 trillion to fund the government and – on page 5 090 – support for the independence of Tibet.
The package, enacted by President Donald Trump in late December, includes pro-Tibet legislation originally introduced by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, who represents the 2nd Congressional District.
The legislation updates the 2002 Tibetan Policy Act to address “the continued oppression of the Tibetan people by the Chinese government,” as McGovern’s office said in a statement.
Chinese Communist troops invaded Tibet in 1950, which it claimed to be part of its territory, and the region has since been riddled with accusations of human rights violations. Spiritual leader Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Tibet to northern India fearing for his life in 1959.
“It’s important that we stand up for human rights not only halfway but halfway around the world,” McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee and the Congressional Executive Board, said Monday on Monday. China, in the Gazette.
McGovern and Chris Smith, R-NJ, introduced the bill and he pass in the House early last year, before being attached to the omnibus bill.
Under the law, China cannot establish new consulates in the United States until an American consulate is established in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
This was good news for Thondup Tsering, a Belchertown resident who has just completed his term as president of the Massachusetts Regional Tibetan Association.
“I think it is really essential for American citizens who are planning to visit Tibet to have access to the consulate and the consulate is able to provide appropriate and timely assistance and assistance to American citizens. The same goes for journalists and diplomats visiting Tibet. He added that he would serve as “eyes and ears on the ground inside occupied Tibet. At present, Tibet is closed to the outside world.
It also creates the American policy on the succession of the Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhists believe that when a Dalai Lama dies, he reincarnates as a child and is identified through research traditionally conducted by the Panchen Lama, a spiritual authority whose reincarnation is in turn identified with the help of the Dalai Lama. In 1995, the 14th Dalai Lama identified Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a 6 year old boy, as the Panchen Lama. However, the Chinese government rejected the nomination and arrested the child and his family, who have not been seen since.
The Chinese government then appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama, whose critics fear he will select a Dalai Lama loyal to the Communist regime. The Dalai Lama sharply criticized the move and said that as a result, he would not reincarnate or do so in an area not under Chinese control.
The legislation reads: “It is the policy of the United States that … decisions regarding the selection, education and worship of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are exclusively spiritual matters which should be made by the appropriate religious authorities. within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the context of the will of the practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.
The legislation “sends a clear message that Chinese officials who interfere with the succession or reincarnation process will be subject to targeted financial, economic and visa sanctions …” a statement from McGovern’s office said.
McGovern said he had met the Dalai Lama and was in contact with Tibetans in his district.
“It’s a growing community. A very active community. But one who is very concerned about their heritage, their language, their religion, their traditions, because the Chinese government is trying to erase their heritage, ”McGovern said.
He added: “The Chinese government insists on appointing the next Dalai Lama. Now, that’s not the way religion works. A government does not tell you who will be your spiritual leader.
Tsering said the Tibetan community had been in contact with McGovern and was involved in the legislation.
“This bill sends a very strong message to China that the US Congress, the nation, the people, are on the side of human rights, of religious freedom, of the side of the Tibetan people,” Tsering said. “I think it also sends a message inside occupied Tibet – it gives them hope and reason to be optimistic even though things are difficult inside occupied Tibet.”
This story contains information from the Greenfield Recorder. Greta Jochem can be reached at [email protected]