10.11.12

Leahy To Introduce The Dalai Lama At Middlebury College On Saturday

Saturday, October 13 --

9:00 a.m. – Senator Leahy to introduce  the Dalai Lama during public event at Nelson Arena, Middlebury College.

[BACKGROUND:   Senator Leahy has long been a leading champion of human rights, including the human rights of the Tibetan people in the face of the Chinese government's campaign to obliterate Tibetan Buddhism.  He has labeled that campaign a form of cultural genocide.  He has met many times with the Dalai Lama on these issues.  As chairman of the budget committee for the State Department and foreign assistance (the Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations) Leahy has authored a wide variety of efforts over the years related to Tibet's struggle.  These include funding of a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department; funding for the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and others to improve coverage of events and cultural activities in Tibet; support for democracy and governance efforts for Tibet through the National Endowment for Democracy; support for NGOs at work preserving cultural traditions and to promote sustainable development and environmental conservation; and support for Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India.  Senator Leahy traveled to Tibet in 1988 and has often told the story of the courageous Tibetan man who came up to him while he was in Lhasa, the capital, and took out a photo to show him, of the Dalai Lama.  The man knew the risk he was taking in doing that, with Chinese soldiers lining the streets, but he confided to Senator Leahy that 'the world has to know.'  Senator Leahy was also closely involved in the efforts to free Ngawang Choephel, the Tibetan Fulbright scholar who studied at Middlebury and was later arrested, convicted in a secret trial, and sentenced to 18 years, for filming traditional Tibetan music and dance in his native country.  Senator Leahy, joined by Senator Jim Jeffords and others, secured his release after six years in prison.] 

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