Thursday, September 14, 2006

HHDL to Receive Congressional Gold Medal, Highest US Civilian Honor

As reported by the Agence France-Presse on September 14, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The US House of Representatives passed a Bill Yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 13) to award the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled leader, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honor.

The medal has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

The award is in recognition of the Dalai Lama's advocacy of religious harmony, non-violence, and human rights and his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue with the Chinese leadership.

The same Bill was passed by the Senate in May.

Under the rules, Congressional gold medals require the support of at least two-thirds of the members of both the Senate and House of Representatives before they can be signed into law by the president.

The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, with 387 co-sponsors drawn from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, representing more than two-thirds of Congress.

The Dalai Lama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his work to bring democracy and freedom to his people, fled Tibet after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
He then established a government-in-exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala and worked to spread the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to Western nations.

In recent years, Tibetan envoys have traveled to China for five rounds of discussions on the status of Tibet but Beijing has been accused of stalling.

"A negotiated settlement would ensure internal stability in Tibet and bolster China's reputation in the world," said House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, an original co-sponsor of the Bill.

Beijing has recently signaled a willingness to allow the Dalai Lama to return to China if he "completely abandons" independence ambitions for the Himalayan region.