New Delhi: The Joe Biden administration Monday appointed Under-Secretary Uzra Zeya as the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Zeya will “specifically promote substantive dialogue” between the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama, his representatives, or democratically elected Tibetan leaders in support of a negotiated agreement on Tibet.
Calling the designation the “United States Administration’s commitment to advance the human rights of Tibetans”, Blinken said the move will “help preserve their distinct heritage, address their humanitarian needs, and meet environmental and water resource challenges of the Tibetan plateau”.
Zeya will also work to promote respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Tibetans and will coordinate US government policies, programmes, and projects to address the humanitarian needs of Tibetan refugees and diaspora communities, including those in the US, according to the statement.
Moreover, Zeya will also be tasked with promoting activities to protect the environment and sustainably manage the water and other natural resources of the Tibetan plateau. She will also seek to increase access to Tibet for US officials, journalists, and other citizens, as consistent with the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, the statement said.
The position, set up under the Tibetan Policy Act, 2002, had remained vacant during much of ex-President Donald Trump’s tenure. It was only in October last year that then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo named Robert A. Destro of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, as the US Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Destro’s stint ended in January.
Who is Uzra Zeya?
Zeya is from North Carolina, where her parents immigrated to from India in the 1960s.
After working for the State Department for 27 years, she quit her role during Donald Trump’s presidency, calling out the “declining diversity at the State Department”.
In her 27-year foreign service career, Zeya has served as deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires in Paris; principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour; Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State and political minister-counselor at the US embassy in New Delhi.
On 14 July this year, Zeya was sworn in to serve as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. She will continue in this position too.