Dalai Lama congratulates President Barack Obama on re-election


US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 19, 2011.



The Dalai Lama has congratulated President Barack Obama on his re-election, even though US policy doesn't support Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama's letter to Obama, dated Nov. 7, coincided with the news of six self-immolations of Tibetans in the space of 48 hours.

Agence France-Presse cited Indian-based exiled Tibetan leaders as saying that a man set himself ablaze on Thursday in the Tibetan-inhabited Huangnan prefecture of China's Qinghai Province, a day after a 23-year-old woman self-immolated and died in the same region.

Three teenage monks — the youngest aged 15 — set themselves alight on Wednesday in Aba County in Sichuan Province, and another incident was reported in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The self-immolations came on the eve of Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress in Beijing. 

The weeklong conference will unveil the country's new leadership.

More from GlobalPost: Tibetan self-immolations: 6 Tibetans set fire to themselves in 48 hours

His Holiness wrote:

"When you were elected in 2008, you inspired the world with a call to take responsibility for the problems we face as global citizens. Since then, you have made earnest efforts to live up to that great hope and trust placed in you by the American public. I believe you have been re-elected now in recognition of that effort."

The letter can be read in full on the website of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Dalai Lama — who favors self-rule rather than independence, according to The New York Times — ceded his political authority in Tibet to elected leadership last year.

In his letter, the Dalai Lama addressed the "tragic series of self-immolations" and encouraged Obama to "take further steps to encourage a mutually acceptable solution."

"When you first took office, I remember writing to you that the world places great hope in the democratic vision and leadership of the United States and that I hoped you would be able to shape a more peaceful world, bearing in mind the poverty, injustice and deprivation suffered by billions of people. The need to address these issues remains pressing today. "

According to Phayul, 67 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest what activists say is China's heavy-handed rule over the region.