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US Special Coordinator to visit Tibetans in India and Nepal

September 22, 2014

Central Tibetan Administration, September 22, 2014 - The US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues has briefed a congressional committee about the government’s efforts to protect the religious freedom of Tibetans in Tibet.

“When it comes to being a voice for the voiceless, there is no stronger example than our persistent call for the protection of the rights of Tibetans to practice their faith freely,” Special Coordinator Sarah Sewall told a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security on Thursday.

“As the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I work to coordinate U.S. government efforts to promote an end to interference by authorities into the religious affairs of the Tibetan people. In this role, I promote the policy of seeking to assist the preservation of the distinct religious heritage of Tibetans,” said Ms Sewall, who is Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

“In February of this year, on my second day of office in fact, I met with the Dalai Lama. I plan to travel to India and Nepal in November during which I will meet with Tibetans in exile,” she said.

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly urged China to ease restrictions on religious freedom, including repressive policies in Tibetan areas as well as in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of northwestern China. We have raised concerns about these issues… during last year’s U.S. – China Human Rights Dialogue in China, and we continue to document religious freedom violations in our annual reports to Congress. Religious freedom, as well as the broader spectrum of human rights, remains a priority in our engagement with the Chinese government,” Ms Sewall said.

“We are sharing our experience with China on the inherent link between effective counterterrorism efforts and open societies that allow dissent and protect the rights of members of minority groups and the rule of law. We not only must expose those who seek to inflict harm on others in the name of terrorist ideology, but we must also work to preserve and improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations and strengthen the relationship between governments and societies that are at risk of radicalization.”

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