Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tibet: Pelos on Dalai Lama's exile from Tibet

"Fifty years ago today, the people of Lhasa assembled together and called for the Chinese army to cease its repression and to leave Tibet. Today we remember that day and honor the many brave Tibetans who have sacrificed so dearly in their fight for freedom.

"Chief among them is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was forced into exile in India.

"The welcoming by India of the Tibetan refugee community is a testament to the close ties between the Indian and Tibetan people. It is a friendship rooted in a mutual admiration for the philosophy of non-violence as practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.

"Last year, I was proud to lead a congressional delegation to India where we were able to meet with His Holiness in Dharamsala, India. This visit - by coincidence or karma - occurred after the protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau and the subsequent crackdown by Chinese authorities.

"When our delegation arrived, the roads were lined with thousands of Tibetan monks, nuns, and children waving American and Tibetan flags. We heard firsthand accounts from former prisoners describing the harsh conditions they endured for only demanding the right to express themselves freely.

"We said at the time that the situation in Tibet challenges the conscience of the world. If freedom-loving people do not speak out for human rights in China and Tibet, then we lose the moral authority to talk about it in any other place in the world.

"For the last year, Tibet has been under martial law and the human rights situation continues to worsen. Last week, the U.S. State Department issued its Annual Country Report on Human Rights stating that 'the [Chinese] government's human rights record in Tibetan areas of China deteriorated severely during the year.'

"Sadly, there has been no progress in the discussions between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama.

"It is clear that the Chinese government has not won the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people. Rather, the Tibetan people have accumulated legitimate grievances from decades of repressive policies.

"They have been economically marginalized in their own land, imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views, and barred from practicing their religion without government interference.

"It is long past time for Beijing to make progress on a solution that respects the human rights of every Tibetan.

"The U.S. Congress continues to be a bedrock of support for the Tibetan people. Last year, I was proud to stand with President Bush to award the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his 'many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, non-violence, human rights, and religious understanding.'

"On the 50th Anniversary of the Dalai Lama being forced into exile, we must heed his guidance and his transcendent message of peace.

"And we must never forget the people of Tibet in their ongoing struggle."

Source: Office of the Speaker of the House
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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