July 12th, 2017
The US Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission organized a hearing on Religious Freedom in Tibet today coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of the death of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
The Co-Chairs of the Commission Congressman Jim McGovern and Congressman Randy Hultgren chaired the hearing. Prof. Tenzin Dorjee, the first Tibetan Commissioner in the US Commission of International Religious Freedom (link to testimony), Arjia Rinpoche, former Abbot of Kumbum Monastery and an eyewitness to the selection of the Panchen Lama (link to testimony), Nyima Lhamo, niece of the late Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and spokeswoman of the family (link to testimony), and Todd Stein, expert on Tibetan Issues and former staff of the State Department (link to testimony), testified before the Commission.
The Co-Chairs mentioned about the importance that they attach to the overall Human Rights situation in Tibet in general and religious freedom in particular with specific cases in their opening statements.
The testimonies covered many issues pertaining to religious freedom in Tibet, policies and programs of the Chinese Government, the current status of Panchen Gedun Choekyi Nyima, issues related to the death of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, return of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, destruction of Larung Gar, release of prisoners of conscience and the issue of reincarnation, particularly around His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The hearing was held in the Foreign Affairs Committee conference room in the Rayburn House Office Building and was attended by many staffers of the members of the Commission and the State Department. Office of Tibet, International Campaign for Tibet and Students for Free Tibet jointly helped coordinate the hearing with leadership of the Commission.
Yesterday, Prof. Tenzin Dorjee spoke at the round table organized by Council for Foreign Relations on Religion and Religious Freedom in China along with Sarah Cook and Rian Thum. Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, Freedom House covered the methodology and trajectory of their research and focused more particularly on the religious freedom for Christians and Falung Gong, while Rian Thum covered religious freedom for Muslims. Prof. Tenzin Dorjee covered Buddhists in Tibet including controls on religious institutions, reincarnation issues including Panchen Lama, self immolations, the case of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and destruction of Larung Gar.
Arjia Rinpoche met yesterday with officials of the State Department and Commissioners of the US Commission of International Religious Freedom. Rinpoche spoke on the regulations laid down by the Chinese Government on selection of the reincarnated Lamas (Ch: living Buddhas) and control on religious institutions among many other issues.
Nyima Lhamo met with Leader Nancy Pelosi today and later presented SFT’s ‘Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’ Medal of Courage Award to two students in honor of Tashi Wangchuk, who was not present to receive the award as he is being held prisoner by the Chinese government, at the ceremony held at National Endowment for Democracy. He was presented the award for the work he has done in Tibet to preserve the Tibetan Langyage and ensure Tibetan is taught in Tibetan schools. Congressman McGovern, Carl Gershman, President of NED, Nyima Lhamo, Sharon Hom (Human Rights China) Matteo Mecacci and Representative Penpa Tsering spoke at the occasion.