By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 28 September 2008
If they don’t stray from their promises, like most politicians do after being elected to high posts, US president hopefuls, Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain, both seem to be reliable.
The United States presidential election of 2008 is scheduled for 4 November 2008. The president-elect and vice president-elect will be inaugurated on 20 January 2009.
Following the crackdown on protests against Chinese rule in Tibet that began in Lhasa on 10 March, the two leaders had expressed support for the Tibetan cause and respect for the Dalai Lama.
Barack Obama sent a letter to the Dalai Lama in July backing the rights of the people of Tibet.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to reassure you of my highest respect and support for you, your mission and your people at this critical time,” Obama said in the letter.
“I am deeply disturbed by reports of a crackdown and arrests ordered by Chinese authorities in the wake of peaceful protests by Tibetan Buddhist monks. I condemn the use of violence to put down peaceful protests, and call on the Chinese government to respect the basic human rights of the people of Tibet, and to account for the whereabouts of detained Buddhist monks.”
The 72-year-old John McCain met the Dalai Lama in July to discuss the Tibetan issue.
“The unfolding tragedy in Tibet should draw the attention of the entire world. I deplore the violent crackdown by Chinese authorities and the continuing oppression in Tibet of those merely wishing to practice their faith and preserve their culture and heritage. I have listened carefully to the Dalai Lama and am convinced he is a man of peace who reflects the hopes and aspirations of Tibetans. I urge the government of the People’s Republic of China to address the root causes of unrest in Tibet by opening a genuine dialogue with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.”
“I urge the Chinese authorities to ensure peaceful protest is not met with violence, to release monks and others detained for peacefully expressing their views and to allow full outside access to Tibet.”
The out-going President George Bush expressed support for the Tibetan cause throughout his eight-year presidency, supporting a negotiated solution with the Chinese leaders. However, what remained obvious was the lack of real commitment, so that Chinese leaders were not obliged to take any concrete actions.