Cincinnati Mayor Pureval meets the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala

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Aftab Pureval, left, interacting with the Dalai Lama on December 5, 2022, in Dharamshala in India. PHOTO: Ven Tenzin Jamphel, Office of Tibet – DC/twitter

Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, Aftab Singh Pureval, the highest-ranking Tibetan-American elected official in the United States, and one of few Indian Americans to lead a city, met His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama along with Mayors of seven US Cities on December 5, 2022, in Dharamshala, India.

On a personal invitation from the Dalai Lama, Pureval along with the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, Mayor of San Leandro, Pauline Cutter, Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, Philanthropist and widow of Muhammad Ali, Lonnie Ali, and former Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto undertook the historic visit.

Before leaving the US, Pureval, in a press statement said, “I am honored to take part in this incredible opportunity to meet His Holiness and invite him to our bold, dynamic city.”

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“Having a global leader visit Cincinnati would be huge, and as the highest-ranking elected Tibetan American in the country, my meeting with him showcases our city’s commitment to diversity and growing the city equitably,” the statement elaborated while noting Pureval’s efforts to promote Cincinnati “as a flourishing, global destination.”

In Dharamshala, Pureval told Radio Free Asia on December 5th, “I had never met him before, and this was an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” adding he asked the Dalai Lama how he could assist the Tibetan community in US during their meeting.

Pureval noted, “And his answer was very simple—to focus not only on the Tibetan cause but to focus on the cause of humanity, to think about all sentient beings and to pray for them, which was very touching.”

In his remarks to Tibetans, Pureval asserted “We feel your pain. We understand your struggle. You are not alone and you are not forgotten. The preservation of our culture, history and religion is a responsibility that those outside of Tibet feel very personally and very strongly.”

Aftab Pureval along with other US mayors in a delegation, during their meeting with the Dalai Lama on December 5, 2022, in Dharamshala in India. PHOTO: Ven Tenzin Jamphel, Office of Tibet – DC/twitter

Reacting to the visit of Mayors’ delegation, MP of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, tweeted, “I am glad to see US leaders visiting Dharamshala, exile home of HH the Dalai Lama and the base of Tibetan government in exile. I hope such visits increase awareness and strengthen support for Tibet in the United States.”

When Pureval was elected as the Mayor of Cincinnati, the Dalai Lama in a letter on December 7, 2021, wrote, “I am pleased to learn that the Tibetan community of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio are holding a celebration to honor Aftab Purewal who is of Tibetan and Indian heritage, for his having been elected as the next Mayor of Cincinnati.”

The letter was presented to Pureval by Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky Tibetan Associations on January 4, 2022, at the swearing-in ceremony. It read, “In recent years, people of Tibetan heritage have also started seeking political office in countries such as Canada, Switzerland, and the USA as a form of public service. While being dedicated in their service for the benefit of others, I hope that they will be able to show an especially warm-hearted concern for the less fortunate members in their constituencies.”

The letter further stated, “When we Tibetans were forced to leave our country in 1959, we were all refugees who initially settled in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. In the years that followed, some of them resettled in western countries eventually becoming citizens of their respective adopted countries.”

“In all my interactions with Tibetans, I have been encouraged to see that, despite living in new circumstances by and large they and their children are able to maintain their sense of identity while contributing to the development of their adopted country,” the letter added.

In response, Pureval tweeted, “As a Tibetan-American, it is a special honor to be recognized by His Holiness. I am inspired by the @DalaiLama’s words on our shared concern for our most vulnerable neighbors, and it would be my honor to introduce His Holiness to the Queen City.”

During his visit to Dharamshala, Pureval visited the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) and met Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang, and Standing Committee members of TPiE. He also visited the Kashag Secretariat and spoke with President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Sikyong Penpa Tsering among others.

He also toured The Tibet Museum, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) and Petoen School at the premise of Gangchen Kyishong.

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