On the morning of September 30, 2023, the Tibetan community and the international community at large mourned the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein, a dedicated advocate for Tibet and a cherished friend of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who shared a longstanding friendship with Senator Feinstein, conveyed his heartfelt condolences to her family. In a letter addressed to Mr. James Sauls at the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, he praised her lifetime of service to the American public, both in California and during her tenure as a Senator. The Dalai Lama noted their first meeting in 1978 when Senator Feinstein, accompanied by her husband Richard Blum, visited Dharamshala, India.
His Holiness acknowledged her unwavering support throughout the years, from his first visit to the United States in 1979 to her crucial role in institutionalizing U.S. support for Tibet. Her friendship with then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin facilitated communication at the highest levels, allowing messages of sincerity to reach the Chinese leadership. His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed gratitude for Senator Feinstein's friendship and support, concluding with prayers for her.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the head of the Central Tibetan Administration, also extended condolences to Katherine Feinstein, the senator's daughter, recognizing Senator Feinstein's significant impact on the Tibetan cause. He highlighted her historic invitation as the Mayor of San Francisco to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1979, which marked the Tibetan leader's first-ever visit to the United States. This pivotal moment fostered understanding and friendship between the Tibetan people and the United States. Senator Feinstein played a vital role as a co-sponsor of the Senate resolution authorizing the Congressional Gold Medal, recognizing His Holiness the Dalai Lama's contributions to humanity, peace, and mutual understanding. She also co-sponsored the Tibetan Policy Act, a milestone outlining the U.S. policy towards Tibet.
The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) also paid tribute to Senator Feinstein, acknowledging her crucial role in passing significant Tibet legislation in the United States. ICT President Tencho Gyatso praised her dedication and support, emphasizing her contributions as a friend of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He mentioned her persistence, even making special trips to China carrying personal communications from the Dalai Lama to Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Senator Feinstein's legacy includes her sponsorship of the Tibetan Policy Act, which codified U.S. political and programmatic support for Tibet. This law established promoting dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's envoys as the U.S.'s central objective on Tibet, among other provisions. She also sponsored the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act, leading to the Tibetan leader receiving the U.S.'s highest civilian honor.
Senator Feinstein's commitment to Tibet began in 1978 when she was introduced to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by her late husband, Richard Blum. As Mayor of San Francisco, she extended the first official invitation to the Dalai Lama in 1979, marking a historic moment in Tibet-U.S. relations. Throughout her political career, Senator Feinstein remained a steadfast advocate for Tibet, leaving an indelible mark on the Tibetan struggle.
Senator Feinstein's legacy and contributions will be remembered with gratitude by Tibetans and supporters worldwide. Her passing is a loss not only to the Tibetan community but to all those who champion human rights, compassion, and justice.
Edited and collated by Team TRC