Uzra Zeya: Indian-born diplomat Uzra Zeya is the US special coordinator for Tibetan issues

The United States has appointed Indian-born diplomat Uzra Zeya as special coordinator for Tibetan issues and she has been tasked with promoting ‘substantive dialogue’ between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives in favor of an agreement negotiated on Tibet.

Zeya, who was once stationed in New Delhi during his diplomatic career, left the Foreign Service in 2018 to protest the policies of then-President Donald Trump.

She is also Under-Secretary for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights.

As U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Zeya will coordinate U.S. government policies, programs, and projects regarding Tibetan issues, pursuant to the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, as amended by the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 .

“I have designated Undersecretary for Civil Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya to concurrently serve as U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, an important role she will assume. effective immediately,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

She will also continue to serve as Undersecretary for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights, a position she was sworn in to on July 14, 2021, he said in a statement.

“Specifically, it will encourage substantive dialogue, without preconditions, between the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama, his representatives or democratically elected Tibetan leaders in favor of a negotiated agreement on Tibet. “, according to the US State Department.

China is accused of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in Tibet. However, China denied the charges.

Negotiations between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama on the issue of Tibet have not taken place in recent years.

Since becoming China’s president in 2013, Xi Jinping has pursued a firm policy of strengthening security control over Tibet.

Beijing has cracked down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama, who despite his exile remains a widely admired spiritual leader in the remote Himalayan region.

Beijing views the 86-year-old Dalai Lama as a separatist.

Last month, the ruling Chinese Communist Party named Wang Junzheng, sanctioned by the US, Britain, EU and Canada for his alleged role in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, leading the party’s unity in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 following China’s takeover of the Himalayan region.

Zeya will promote respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Tibetans, including their freedom of religion or belief, and support efforts to preserve their distinct historical, linguistic, cultural and religious heritage, the department said. ‘State.

She will further support U.S. efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of Tibetan refugees and diaspora communities, including those in the United States who have been threatened and intimidated by China, he said, adding that the Special Coordinator will promote activities aimed at protecting the environment and sustainably. manage water and other natural resources of the Tibetan plateau.

“Consistent with the 2018 Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, she will also seek to increase access to Tibet for U.S. officials, journalists and other citizens.

“Special Coordinator Zeya will work closely with Tibetan cultural, religious, and political leaders, the U.S. Congress, international allies and partners, and civil society representatives on these issues,” the State Department said.

This designation demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to advancing the human rights of Tibetans, helping to preserve their distinct heritage, meeting their humanitarian needs, and addressing the environmental and water resources challenges of the Tibetan Plateau. he added.

In April, while introducing Zeya at his confirmation hearing for the post of Under Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Senator Tim Kaine said that Zeya had previously served five presidents, three Republicans and two Democrats, with honors for 28 years. years as a foreign service officer on four continents.

She is fluent in Arabic, French and Spanish. She was acting assistant secretary of human rights, democracy and labor. In this position, she led the UN-US human rights dialogue with China, Egypt and Bahrain, among others, he said.

Zeya had told lawmakers that her grandfather was a freedom fighter in India.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

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