Barack Obama Statement Honoring the Awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama
Washington, D.C., October 17, 2007 – “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled leader, stands among the great moral figures of our time. His mission is reflected by personal example – a life led in humility, moral courage and the belief in the redemptive power of human compassion.
Today we celebrate the Dalai Lama, not only as the spiritual rock for the Tibetan people, but also for his tireless advocacy for religious harmony, non-violence and human rights throughout the world.
I am proud and honored to join my colleagues and all Americans in paying tribute to the Dalai Lama. By bestowing on him the Congressional Gold Medal, we send a clear message of our commitment and support for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue with the Chinese leadership.
The people of Tibet have a distinct and rich culture, and the Dalai Lama occupies a special place in their Buddhist beliefs and practices. The Dalai Lama has been consistent in his message that he does not seek independence for Tibet, that he supports the integrity and unity of the People’s Republic of China, and that he aims for a solution based on Tibetan autonomy within China.
I am pleased that China has been willing to enter into discussions about Tibet’s future, including inviting the representatives of the Dalai Lama to China for a sixth round of talks earlier this summer.
But it is now time for the Chinese leadership to engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama directly, allow him to return to Tibet, and work with him to assure the identity and cultural integrity of Tibet and to address the legitimate needs of the Tibetan people.
Taking such steps will build the basis for long-term stability in this strategic part of that country.”
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