Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama’s right-hand diplomat who led rare negotiations with China that proved frustrating and fruitless, was effectively a foreign minister for the Tibetan spiritual leader and became a driving force in building broad support for the Tibetan cause in Washington, AFP reports.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the US House of Representatives and longtime activist on Tibet, mourned Gyari – who died yesterday – as an “extraordinary champion for the Tibetan people.”
“Lodi’s legacy is ours to continue through action and advocacy,” she said. “As friends of Tibet, we stand united with Tibetans in their journey to win the freedom to teach their culture and their religion to their children in their own language,” she said, adding: “The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world.”
His influence, however, remains, the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO) asserts. The Tibetan struggle – and particularly its commitment to nonviolent, democratic methods – has garnered sympathy both in the US and globally. There are rumors of back room talks between Beijing and the Tibetan government in exile.
“Lodi Gyari was a monumental figure in the history of the Tibetan struggle to resist Chinese oppression and to preserve the identity, religion, and cultural integrity of Tibetan Buddhists,” said Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy.
“From his co-founding of the Tibetan Youth Congress in 1970, to his leadership of the International Campaign for Tibet, to his role as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy in conducting negotiations with Beijing to resolve peacefully the issue of Tibet’s status, Lodi Gyari was a Tibetan leader of enormous stature and accomplishment,” he added. “He was also well-known and greatly respected in the U.S. Congress and in Washington policy circles, and he played a pivotal role in building the close relationship between the United States and Tibet.”
“Lodi was a devoted democrat who helped develop the democratic institutions of the Tibetan community in exile, and who fervently emphasized and explained the importance of India’s democracy to the cause of democracy worldwide. Not least, he was a dear friend and cherished adviser of the NED, where he will be deeply mourned and long remembered.”
The Board of Directors and staff of the NED offer sincere condolences to Lodi Gyari’s family and friends and to all who carry on his work on behalf of the Tibetan people.