White House Offers Quake Sympathy, but Not to Tibet

Press secretary mentions only Nepal, India, Bangladesh
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2015 7:37 AM CDT
White House Offers Quake Sympathy, but Not to Tibet
Exile Tibetans and supporters hold photographs showing the devastation in Nepal during a candlelit vigil in solidarity with the people affected by the earthquake in Nepal and the border areas of India and China, in Dharmsala, India, Sunday, April 26, 2015.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

The Nepal earthquake also caused deaths in other countries, including dozens in Tibet—but Tibet didn't get the White House's condolences yesterday. During a press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted that the US government offered its "deepest condolences to … the families of those who died in Nepal, but also the families of those who died in India and Bangladesh." Similarly, a National Security Council spokesperson referred Saturday to "widespread damage and loss of life in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh" when talking about the quake, Politico reports. (A recent Bangladesh report put that country's death toll at four; the Business-Standard says Tibet's toll currently stands at 25.)

Tibet's autonomy, of course, is contested by the Chinese government, and Tibetan officials believe the region is being purposely excluded from these statements. "Tibetan areas across the Nepalese border have been severely affected as well," says the Dalai Lama’s representative in Washington. "We believe that all affected regions should be highlighted so that they receive the appropriate attention and relief support." Though President Obama has in the past officially recognized Tibet as part of China, he has also met with the Dalai Lama numerous times and has encouraged China to "take steps to preserve the unique [Tibetan] culture." (More Tibet stories.)

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