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US Under Secretary Zeya visits Dharamshala, meets Dalai Lama

The delegation of the CTA headed by Sikyong Penpa Tsering led the US State Department delegation to the Kashag Secretariat where they held a brief meeting followed by a tour of offices at Gangchen Kyishong, the Tibetan Parliament in exile building.

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Dharamshala/New Delhi: US Under Secretary Uzra Zeya, who is also Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, on Wednesday visited Dharamshala and was accorded a rousing welcome by the Tibetans and members of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The delegation of the CTA headed by Sikyong Penpa Tsering led the US State Department delegation to the Kashag Secretariat where they held a brief meeting followed by a tour of offices at Gangchen Kyishong, the Tibetan Parliament in exile building.

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During her stay in Dharamshala, Special Coordinator Zeya also met the Dalai Lama at his residence.

“A high-level visitation from the US such as this one signifies the latter’s momentous support for the Tibetan issue,” said the CTA in a statement.
Tibet.net, the official twitter account of the CTA, said: “Sikyong Penpa Tsering led Central Tibetan Administration welcomes Uzra Zeya @UnderSecStateJ Special Coordinator for Tibet Issues, at Gangchen Kyishong the seat of Tibetan Administration in exile on 18 May 2022.”

“Tibetan Parliament in Exile led by @TPiESpeaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang welcomed U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet Uzra Zeya @UnderSecStateJ at Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat @Tibparliament on 18 May 2022.”

The Special Coordinator’s visit follows the successful visit to Washington last month by Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration where the latter met with the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other bipartisan members of Congress, and other officials at the State Department.

This is the 6th visit of the successive Special Coordinators to Dharamshala. 
In January 2000, Assistant Secretary Julia Taft became the first Special Coordinator to visit Dharamshala. In November 2006, Undersecretary Paula J. Dobriansky visited. In 2009, Undersecretary Maria Otero (then designated to serve as Special Coordinator), accompanied Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, on a trip to Dharamshala.

Undersecretary Sarah Sewall visited Dharamshala in 2014 and 2016, the CTA said.

The US official’s visit to Dharamshala also comes a day after Tibetans across the world, including in India, protested the abduction by the Chinese government 27 years ago of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama. He was abducted at the tender age of six and is known as the “youngest political prisoner in the world”. 

Tibetans on Tuesday appealed to Beijing to free the Buddhist spiritual leader, even as they recited hymns to mark the day.

The Central and Regional Tibetan Women’s Association in Dharamshala held a one-day hunger strike to mark the 27-year disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama and called on the Chinese government to immediately release Nyima his family,

The Central Tibetan Administration has described Nyima as “one of the world’s longest serving political prisoners”.

On April 25 this year, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement which read, “In the more than 25 years since Gedhun’s abduction, Chinese authorities have provided little information about his whereabouts, alleging that they need to protect him from being ‘kidnapped by separatists’.”

Penpa Tsering, the second democratically elected Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, in a tweet said: “Tibetans, global Buddhist community & friends of Tibet have long awaited a genuine answer to the whereabouts of the #11thPanchenLama. Today marks the 27th year of his enforced disappearance. We ask the Chinese government to free and enable his return to his rightful seat at Tashi Lhunpo.”

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