McCain calls for release of Tibetans |

McCain calls for release of Tibetans

ASPEN ” Republican presidential candidate John McCain wanted to send a strong message to China that he wasn’t happy with the recent crackdown in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama wanted to send a message that he and his followers are hoping China will be more receptive to talks after the pressure of the Olympics is over.

Although they offered few specifics, both accomplished their goals Friday when McCain met with the Dalai Lama on Friday for about 45 minutes and called on China to release Tibetan prisoners and account for persons who “disappeared” during the recent Tibetan uprising.

John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, said the time is ripe for both sides to sit down again and talk. He said the Dalai Lama needs support from other world leaders to pressure China to find a solution.

McCain said the Beijing Olympic Games in August provide a good opportunity for China to demonstrate that it recognizes human rights. He also said the Dalai Lama is merely seeking basic rights to preserve Tibetan culture, language and religion.

“That’s why I’m so disappointed by repeated statements by Chinese officials that ascribe to the Dalai Lama views and actions divorced from what he actually represents. Such rhetoric doesn’t serve a cause of peaceful change and reconciliation,” McCain said.

“I urge the Chinese government to release Tibetan political prisoners, account for Tibetans who have, quote, ‘disappeared’ since protests in March, and engage in meaningful dialogue on genuine autonomy for Tibet,” McCain said.

The Dalai Lama praised McCain for his concern ” while emphasizing he wasn’t endorsing McCain’s presidential bid.

The Tibetan spiritual leader says he wants autonomy, not independence, for Tibet.

China claims Tibet has been its territory for centuries.

“His Holiness represents the profound desire of millions of Tibetans for basic dignity and human rights. His nonviolence approach and his lifelong work seeking common ground across cultural and religious divides are an inspiration to all of mankind and to millions of Americans,” McCain said as the Dalai Lama clutched his hands.

The Dalai Lama was in Aspen for a symposium of The Aspen Institute looking at Tibet. He was to give a speech on Saturday.

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