Tag - Tibet Lobby Day

Our Unwavering Mission to Uphold Peace and Human Rights

By Tenzin Passang. Tenzin Passang is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an intern at the International Campaign for Tibet.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
– His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

 Tenzin Passang

Author Tenzin Passang outside of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill.

This quote of His Holiness manifested in true form when more than 200 Tibetan Americans and non-Tibetans convened in Washington DC for the annual Tibet Lobby Day. Their purpose: to speak for those who can’t. Tibet Lobby Day organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, empowers advocates with the opportunity to meet their legislators and address the plight our fellow Tibetans face in Tibet. This year our focus was on the Resolve Tibet Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives and now awaits Senate approval. The bill, if passed, will make it official US policy that the dispute between Tibet and China remains unresolved and must be resolved in accordance with international law.

It was overwhelming to see many people from all over the nation come to DC for our event. We received a very diverse group of participants including high school and college students, professionals, retired folk and partners of our organization. It was especially inspiring to see so many young Tibetans, and their absence from their school served as their recognition for a greater cause. Their presence meant a lot to me and not because they increased the number of participants, nor because we increased our outreach to more states, but because it served as a testament that the next generation who will eventually lead the movement to free Tibet was up to the task. I perceived a deeply rooted sense of patriotism and selflessness in them reflected by their commitment to advocate for people who they have never met, yet with whom they shared an intrinsic connection of identity, culture, and compassion.

Congressional meetings are often one-sided conversation; you best be prepared to present your issues articulately and persuasively. These meetings require you to understand the bills and relevant current affairs. I accompanied two Vermonters to their Congressional meetings, Tsering Yangkyi Cummings, a community leader, and her 14-year-old daughter, Tenzin Yega Cummings. Tsering and the rest of the group were well prepared, and we had organized in a way so that everyone on the team could contribute to the meeting. However, the person who made the most impactful contribution was Tenzin Yega. Yes, a 14-year-old advocate. Without her the meetings would not have been as productive as we would have liked. She displayed confidence and intellectual prowess by leading our conversations and by answering questions in a well-informed and articulate manner. I could see that the Congressional staffers were amazed, and I was as well.

Tibet Lobby Day

Author Tenzin Passang with ICT staffers Sarah Kane and Tsejin Khando preparing materials for Tibet Lobby Day participants.

Her conversations were driven by her passion and a willingness to make a difference. Her calm and composed demeanor set the tone for our meetings, and she was quick to speak up when others had run out of things to say. During the free time between meetings, she would flip through info packets and prepare herself by practicing with her mother.

All in all, Tibet Lobby Day was a grand success. The event itself is an exercise of our right to petition our government, keeping the Tibetan spirit vibrant within the halls of Congress. The growth in participation since our inaugural year is exponential, with some non-Tibetan allies matching, if not surpassing, my own zeal—a fact that fills me with immense joy. Through our relentless advocacy we aim to marshal more support not just in Congress but the American population in general.

I am eager to participate next year as well and to find more energy and inspiration. Bod Gyalo! (Victory for Tibet!)

Taking a Step for Tibet — My Experience with Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, D.C.

By: Nancy Lindberg

Tibet Lobby Day

Nancy Lindberg with her husband (Tenzin Chophel), and two children (Tsering and Tenzin) as well as fellow members of the Tibetan Association of Vermont, Tseten Anak Kalsang GGT, during Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, DC.

Here we are in the United States, far from Tibet, wondering what we can and should do. Some of us have been to Tibet or exile communities in India and Nepal, and fell in love with the culture. Some of us are followers of the Dharma. Some of us are Tibetan American immigrants or their children. Our existences are linked together, firmly or tenuously, by Tibet.

I am a Vermont native, wife of a Tibetan, mother of Tibetan American children, past traveler in Tibet and past student and volunteer in Tibetan exile communities. Recently, I’ve noticed that as life proceeds, we sometimes give more time and sometimes less, to things we care about, adjusting our distribution of time according to life’s circumstances. Like so many of our friends, my husband Tenzin and I, gave our time to nurturing our children through their childhood. Part of that nurturing included speaking Tibetan at home, traveling to their father’s childhood home of Dharamsala India, and participating in Vermont’s local Tibetan community and its various events, such as Tibetan New Year (Losar) and the March 10th commemoration of Tibetan Uprising Day.

In 2012, when our daughter was in eighth grade, we decided to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in Tibet Lobby Day. On our way, we stopped in New York City to pay our respects to three determined Tibetan hunger strikers camped out in front of the United Nations, refusing sustenance until their demands for Tibet were acknowledged. They called for fact-finding missions to look into the human rights abuses in Tibet. They wanted journalists to be allowed into Tibet to illuminate the atrocities that were leading Tibetans there to use their bodies as their last statements. The year 2012 will be remembered for the heart-breaking rash of self-immolations in Tibet. Tibetans in Tibet were shaking us all awake.

Arriving in D.C., a Tibetan family opened their home to us. We felt welcome, like family from afar, reunited after a long journey. The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) had organized everything for the three-day event. The program started with an afternoon of orientation and lobbying practice. We learned about the ‘asks’ for the occasion – specific, tangible requests we could make when we visited each of Vermont’s representatives over the next several days. The ‘asks’ were not the big statements we see on bumper stickers, T-shirts or rally placards, such as ‘Free Tibet’ or ‘China Go Home’. These ‘asks’ pointed our representatives down a progressive path, one small step leading to the next. These ‘asks’ connected Tibet to the reality of the U.S. government’s daily business. We would ask our representatives to support budget initiatives, like continued funding for radio broadcasts inside Tibet – a source of news and hope for Tibetans inside and out. We would ask them to sign a letter that their colleague would be circulating. The letter would request Secretary of State John Kerry to make Tibet a priority issue during an upcoming visit to China. We received brief bios of Tibet’s prisoners, and prepared to highlight the plight of several individuals to our representatives (sadly, there were many from which to choose). We also practiced introducing ourselves and sharing our personal connection to Tibet (in a minute or less!)

It had been 20-years since my husband had immigrated from Dharamsala to the U.S., and in those few days in D.C., people from his life in India suddenly surrounded him. His young friends from TCV, were now here beside him, middle aged, preparing to gather not at the edge of the road in Dharamsala to greet His Holiness’s motorcade, but on Capitol Hill in the Halls of Congress. This was our next step.

The first steps had been those of his father and mother, and his friends’ fathers and mothers. They took decisive yet painful and reluctant steps across the Himalayas to northeastern India and later to Himachal. Steps that left behind everything, except the hope that they would return, later in life, when the time for freedom had come.

But as we know, most fathers and mothers have not yet returned. They raised their families and reminded them, incessantly, that they were Tibetan. They attended rallies, educated their children, celebrated and mourned. They passed on the torch. In the early nineties, thousands of Tibetans began relocating to the United States. They were pulled by opportunities for them personally, for their children…and hopefully, for Tibet. The rhythm of daily life changed. Tibetan parents in the U.S. started working two jobs or split shifts, learning to afford life in America and to follow its storied dream. Tibetans in the U.S. adapted quickly and successfully, just as their parents had in India and Nepal. As in India and Nepal, their close proximity to one another (living in approximately 20 cluster sites including Boston, N.Y.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, Burlington, VT etc.) enabled them to keep their culture and hopes alive, albeit in new ways.

Like my husband’s friends surrounding us, we had reached a plateau in life. Our son in college, and our daughter maturing into a young woman in high school, it was time to think about reinventing our personal commitment to Tibet, in a way that extended beyond the bounds of our family and community. So it is that my husband, daughter and I found ourselves, slightly intimidated, wandering the Halls of Congress. Dressed in our best business attire, adorned with Tibetan/American flag lapel pins and armed with khatas and a briefcase full of information provided by ICT, we went forth to punctually attend appointments at each office of our state’s representatives.

Like anything in life, lobbying is a process. Prepare, practice, be on time, be thankful, get to the point, express more gratitude, take photos, share your successes, and remember to follow-up periodically when you get home. Then there were the opportunities for on-the-spot interviews in the halls in between meetings. Members of the press, both Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America were there, curious about how our meetings had gone. We told them…hopefully our friends and family in Tibet heard. In the evening, we met other lobbyists, reminisced about our day and our lives, and felt good.

At the first Tibet Lobby Day my family and I attended, we took a step…many steps even. My family has attended lobby day annually ever since that first experience. It’s on our calendars – somewhere near Losar and March 10th. It’s as important to us as both of those occasions. With each Tibet Lobby Day, we are grateful for the opportunity to personally tell our elected representatives something about Tibet.

Life repeats itself on an annual cycle. Despite the repetition, we are blessed to be able to enter each New Year with a new perspective and a sense of new possibilities. Tibet Lobby Day gives its participants a way to take a few important steps for Tibet. It is all of our combined steps that make an incredible impact. At Tibet Lobby Day 2017, I look forward to connecting with old friends and making many new ones. Together, let’s visit Capitol Hill, and make a difference for Tibet.

Nancy Lindberg
Shelburne, Vermont

Make the US Congress hear the voice of Tibet – Join Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, DC

This year’s Tibet Lobby Day in Washington DC will take place on Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3. All supporters and friends of Tibet are invited to join the event – the sign up deadline is February 25, 2015.

This annual event, which began 7 years ago, brings together over a hundred Tibetan-Americans and friends of Tibet to Washington DC. ICT will host a lobby training session on March 1, and with information and folders in hand, participants will be able to visit offices of their Representatives and Senators in the US Capital. ICT makes the appointments for the meetings, equips you with information, folders and a great team to work with – it is a great opportunity to meet Tibet supporters from across the US as well as advocate directly on Tibet with your elected leaders. In 2014, more than one hundred Tibetan-Americans, Tibet Support Groups, Tibetan Associations and individual Tibet supporters made it to DC, meeting with over 150 Congressional offices to voice their support and ask for engagement on Tibet. This is the type of support that Tibet needs.

The U.S. Congress has long been a bulwark of support for Tibet, from giving His Holiness the Dalai Lama his first parliamentary forum in 1987, to millions of dollars in Tibet support programs every year. But at the same time it is of vital importance that we continue to remind our Members of Congress of their longstanding commitment to Tibet. Faced with the well-funded lobbying might of the Chinese Embassy, it is critical that we speak out to let our elected representatives know of the breadth and depth of support for the cause of Tibet amongst their constituents and ensure that Tibet continues to remain on their legislative agendas.

We recently heard that the Chinese government has hired a new communications firm to make its voice heard in Washington, DC – The Rogich Communications Group has been hired to advise the People’s Republic of China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai “on matters related to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. These efforts include counseling the Government of the People’s Republic of China on how to effectively present its views to the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States Government and to business interests within the United States of America.”

But Tibet does not need a firm. It has the voice of its people and its friends to tell the US government that what the Chinese government is doing in Tibet is wrong and the US government must support Tibetans. So join us on March 2 and 3 to be a Voice for Tibet and help ensure that the voice of Tibetans is amplified in the halls of Congress.

SIGN UP DEADLINE: February 25, 2015
MORE INFORMATION: www.tibetlobbyday.us
QUESTIONS: lobbyday@savetibet.org