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Good afternoon and tashi delek. It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you to the State Department for the first in-person Losar celebration since 2020. We are privileged to be joined by such distinguished guests, including our Congressional and civil society partners; Ambassadors and diplomatic colleagues; representatives of the local Tibetan community, and dear friends from the State Department and other U.S. government agencies, including Deputy Assistant to President Biden and White House Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison Erika Moritsugu.

Welcome all.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank the International Campaign for Tibet and the Capital Area Tibetan Association for their contributions to today’s event.

It is only fitting that we are coming together on this second day in the Year of the Water Hare. According to Tibetan custom, the second day of the new year is dedicated to visiting with friends and wishing them “Losar Tashi Deleg” or “good luck and happiness” for the new year. So let me extend a heartfelt “Losar Tashi Deleg” to all our friends in this room as we wish you a prosperous year ahead full of joy, friendship, and collaboration.

As with any new year celebration, today provides an opportunity for reflection on the past and a hopeful and determined look towards the future.

In my first year as U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I had the privilege to strengthen close partnerships across the global Tibetan community. In my inaugural trip to Dharamshala in May, I had the honor of meeting with His Holiness. I was inspired by his open-hearted message of peace and inter-faith harmony and the indispensable role he continues to play as a spiritual compass to so many around the world. I was energized by the commitment and resilience of the Central Tibetan Administration leadership and the enduring institutions they have established in Dharamshala. I was also inspired to hear of the accomplishments, advocacy, and aspirations of Tibetan civil society and youth communities.

In addition, I’ve had the pleasure to meet Tibetan diaspora communities across the USA to learn about the opportunities and challenges they face and their vision and dreams for the future.

I look forward to continued engagement and partnership with CTA colleagues, Tibetan civil society, and the Tibetan diaspora globally in the year ahead.

Another central part of my focus this past year has been to deepen engagement with allies and partners and increase international solidarity in support of Tibetans’ human rights and preservation of their cultural, linguistic, and religious identity. This past October, I hosted a UN Human Rights Council side event in Geneva on the human rights implications of PRC interference in the Dalai Lama’s succession, alongside likeminded partners, NGOs, Tibetan scholars, and the CTA. Through our collective engagement, the event served as a call to action for the international community to prioritize this issue and its ramifications for our cherished and shared values of respect for freedom of religion or belief. Over the course of the past year, we also saw Tibet highlighted in high-profile joint statements, from the G-7 to the Human Rights Council, expressing serious concern on the human rights situation in the PRC.

As we make significant strides in our work with allies and partners, the United States leads by example in calling attention to PRC human rights abuses and promoting accountability for those responsible. We have raised our concerns regarding the situation in Tibet at the highest levels of the PRC government, including during President Biden’s summit with President Xi last November. Moreover, on the eve of Human Rights Day, last December, the United States designated the former Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Wu Yingjie and the current head of the TAR Public Security Bureau, Zhang Hongbo, under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in connection with serious human rights abuses in Tibet. This was the first time the United States, or any other country, has sanctioned PRC officials for their involvement in the repression taking place in Tibet.

We will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to promote accountability for the PRC’s human rights abuses. I am committed to working closely across the U.S. government and with our Congressional allies to devise innovative policy and programming solutions to support our Tibetan friends.

While it is important to recognize our efforts of the past year, we need to remain clear-eyed on the challenging road ahead. The PRC continues to implement draconian systems of control that seek to “Sinicize” the Tibetan population. It interferes in the succession process of Tibetan Buddhist lamas, including the Dalai Lama, both within the PRC and throughout the region. It seeks to stamp out the ability of communities to pass down Tibet’s linguistic and cultural traditions to younger generations, including through the forcible use of government-run boarding schools. The PRC executes these repressive policies using an increasingly omnipresent network of surveillance systems, tens of thousands of Communist Party cadres, and through outright intimidation, harassment, arrest, and imprisonment. We have been especially concerned by reports of mass DNA collection in the Tibet Autonomous Region, a practice that was spearheaded in Xinjiang, as an additional form of control and surveillance over the Tibetan population.

Let me reiterate what I said in Geneva last October – while we face a formidable task, what gives me hope is the resilience, the perseverance, and the faith of the Tibetan community, both inside the PRC and among the diaspora. This perseverance is mirrored in the United States, where our resolve to advance the human rights and dignity of all Tibetans, as well as preserve their distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity, is unwavering. We also persist in our call for the PRC to resume meaningful and direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions.

My friends, our mutual resolve is unshakeable, but our path will not be easy. This Losar, we can draw inspiration from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who said that “when we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. No matter what is happening, no matter what is going on around you, never give up.” My friends, as we enter the year of the Water Hare, let us continue our journey together with this same spirit of perseverance, fortitude, and hope.

With that, I am delighted to introduce Secretary Blinken’s video remarks extending his new year’s greetings to the Tibetan community. Happy new year again to you all and tashi delek.

U.S. Department of State

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