WASHINGTON — The Dalai Lama spends this week in Washington to confer with US lawmakers and hold a rare meeting reaching out to Chinese, but President Barack Obama will give him a cold shoulder.
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, an itinerant traveler at age 74, arrives Monday in the US capital after two weeks around North America that featured spiritual teachings and an appearance with fellow Nobel laureates.
China, which sent troops into Tibet in 1950, has been ramping up pressure on other nations not to receive the Buddhist monk. Obama sent a delegation to the Dalai Lama’s home in exile in India last month that confirmed he would not meet him until after his first presidential trip to Beijing in November.
Activists said they expected a meeting to take place by year-end and voiced hope Obama would raise Tibet in China. But some Tibet supporters were fuming.
Congressman Frank Wolf called it a “dark, dark moment” and recalled hearing Tibetans’ past accounts of torture at the Drapchi prison in the Himalayan territory.
“What would a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun in Drapchi prison think when he heard that President Obama, the president of the United States, is not going to meet with the Dalai Lama?” said Wolf, a Republican and outspoken critic of China’s rights record.
“It’s against the law to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. I can almost hear the words of the Chinese guards saying to them that nobody cares about you in the United States,” Wolf said.
Now, to be fair, Obama can’t make time for every two-bit exiled, tortured world leader that wanders into town. I mean, I doubt the Dalai Lama gave much if anything to Obama’s election campaign. Priorities!