The US has designated Indian-origin diplomat Uzra Zeya as its Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and she has been tasked with promoting “substantive dialogue” between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, in support of a negotiated agreement on Tibet.She will retain her current position as the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
As the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Zeya will coordinate the US government policies, programmes and projects concerning Tibetan issues, consistent with the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, as amended by the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020.
According to the US State Department, Zeya will promote Tibetans’ human rights and fundamental freedoms, including their freedom of religion or belief, and will assist efforts to conserve their unique historical, linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage.
She will also support US efforts to address the humanitarian needs of Tibetan refugees and diaspora communities, including those in the United States who have been threatened or intimidated by China, according to the statement. The special coordinator will also promote activities to protect the environment and sustainably manage the Tibetan plateau’s water and other natural resources, according to the statement.
She will also strive to improve access to Tibet for US officials, journalists, and other individuals in accordance with the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018.
China has been accused of repressing Tibetan cultural and religious freedom, but it has denied the charges.
In recent years, there have been no conversations between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama on the Tibet problem. Since taking office as President of China in 2013, Xi Jinping has maintained a clear policy of tightening security control over Tibet.
Despite his exile, the Dalai Lama is a much regarded spiritual leader in the remote Himalayan region, and Beijing has begun cracking down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama.
The 86-year-old Dalai Lama is considered a separatist by Beijing. Following China’s conquest of the Himalayan region in 1959, he has been living in exile in India.
Zeya, who was stationed in New Delhi during her diplomatic career, resigned from the Foreign Service in 2018 in protest of then-President Donald Trump’s policies.
Senator Tim Kaine said during Zeya’s confirmation hearing for the position of Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights in April that Zeya had previously served five presidents, three Republicans and two Democrats, with distinction as a foreign service officer on four continents for 28 years.
She was acting assistant secretary of human rights, democracy, and labour, and was fluent in Arabic, French, and Spanish. According to him, she oversaw UN-US human rights talks with China, Egypt, and Bahrain, among others. Zeya revealed to MPs that her grandfather was an Indian freedom fighter.