Affirmation of Religious Freedom: Save Tibet and Then Some

I rarely participate in campaigns. I’m not the activist type. But for
some reason, when I opened my mail yesterday, I felt an overwhelming
impulse to sign a petition for the Affirmation of Religious Freedom via
the International Campaign for Tibet. Upon further reflection I realized that my impulse was due to the following reasons:

– violation of basic human rights.

– Tibetan people are generally peaceful.

– Tibetan Buddhism is a rich culture that deserves to be preserved and allowed to evolve naturally on its own.

– Buddhism in general, and Tibetan Buddhism in particular, is very close to my heart.
I’ve learned a lot from its culture, religion, and spirituality. Its
philosophy and teachings continue to serve as my guide in my life’s

So I went ahead and took the liberty to type the original letter that I received. Additional hyperlinks are mine.

Please take the time to read it so you can be aware of what’s at stake.

Kick ass and be still…


Dear Friend of Freedom:

I hope you will use your right of free speech to help stand out for the
people of Tibet who can not speak out for themselves without risking
imprisonment, torture and possible death.

The beautiful prayer flags I’ve enclosed for you are an expression of Tibetan culture and identity.

Sadly, this unique culture is under assault by the Chinese government.

That is why I’m writing to urge you to take two urgent actions:

First, take a moment to unfurl the Tibetan Prayer Flags I’ve enclosed for you and display them in a prominent place. 

Second, please sign the enclosed Affirmation of Religious Freedom to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and return it to me.

Through this actions you can help the International Campaign for Tibet,
the citizens group which has worked for more than 18 years on behalf of
human rights and self-determination for the people of Tibet.

Let me explain.

As a Buddhist, a student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and as Chairman
of the Board of the International Campaign for Tibet, I’m writing to
inform you that the Chinese government has taken two outrageous actions
in arrogant disregard of the religious customs of Tibetan Buddhism and
the culture and identity of the Tibetan people:

1) First, defying the Dalai Lama’s recognition of the Panchen Lama, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s senior-most leaders, they picked their own Panchen Lama.

THEN to add insult to injury…

2) The Chinese government detained the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama
as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Born on April 25, 1989, he
and his family have been in detention since May 17, 1995 at an unknown
location. The boy,
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has now spent more than ten years in the custody of the Chinese government and remains that way today.

China’s agenda is no secret: If they can choose the next Panchen Lama,
they think they will be able to choose the next Dalai Lama.

AND … if they choose the next Dalai Lama, that will be a blatant
interference in the culture, religion and heritage of the Tibetan
people. This may also lead to the demise of the Tibetan cultural
tradition as we know it.

To many, the issue of the Panchen Lama may seem esoteric in a world filled with so many problems.

But, the fact is that this controversy is a symbol of a campaign to persecute a people and to destroy its culture.

Under China’s occupation, all but 13 of the country’s 6,254 monasteries
were destroyed or damaged and tens of thousands of monks were killed or
sent to internment camps.

Today, they are still hitting the Tibetans where it hurts most: in the heart of their religious beliefs.

But the world is becoming alert to this religious persecution. And, caring people like you are taking action.

Our intensified efforts to restore religious freedom in Tibet began at
the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. when the Dalai Lama and a
group of religious and moral leaders from all faiths rededicated
themselves to securing for all the world’s people the right to cultural

Today, we are engaged in a peaceful, prayerful and nationwide campaign designed to help win freedom for the people of Tibet.

There’s no question in my mind that the tide can be turned in Tibet’s favor. But, we need your help. 

International Campaign for Tibet is launching a major effort to
mobilize all Americans who believe in the right of a nation, that
harbors one of the world’s great ancient spiritual cultures, to survive.

And that’s where the enclosed Tibetan Prayer Flags and the Affirmation
of Religious Freedome come in. And why I hope you will take time out of
your busy schedule to help. Here’s how.

Take Action. Get Involved.

… … … <snipped> … … …

Please let the brave people of Tibet know they are not alone.


Richard Gere
Chairman of the Board of Directors
International Campaign for Tibet

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