Dalai Lama Criticizes U.S. on Denial of Equal Voting Rights to D.C. Residents
Washington, November 11 (AFP): Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, took a rare swipe at the United States, saying he was puzzled why residents in the capital of the world's oldest democracy have no Congressional voting rights.
The Tibetan leader said yesterday it was ‘quite strange’ that people in Washington DC had no voting representatives and no Senators, an issue that has dogged the United States for the last 200 years.
It cropped up again when the Dalai Lama, on a visit to a public school in the US capital, was asked by a student why US citizens in DC were denied the right, and what would he do if his citizens were deprived of such a privilege.
The 70-year-old leader pondered for a while and shot back the same question to Bernard Igbedian, a 17-year-old pupil of Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts.
When Igbedian said he saw no reason for the denial of voting rights, the Dalai Lama, himself battling Chinese authorities for greater autonomy for Tibetans, said the people should speak up and find out why.
"Then you should find out. If there are sufficient reasons, we have to think more carefully, but if there is no reason, then shout," the maroon-robed leader told the student, drawing laughter among the 200 odd students and visitors.
He said he wondered why a ‘small pocket’ of people living in the world's "champion of democracy, liberty and freedom" lacked full voting rights and representation in Congress.
"Quite strange, quite strange," he remarked, drawing further laughter.