Dharamsala, India - Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a bipartisan delegation to express support for the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to discuss the current situation in Tibet.
The delegation was welcomed to the community by thousands of Tibetans in a ceremony led by Speaker Karma Choephel of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. The delegation then proceeded to an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama where they discussed issues relating to Tibet and the plight of Tibetan refugees in India.
In the afternoon, the delegation visited the Tibetan Children's Village, supported in part with U.S. assistance, that educates and looks after thousands of Tibetan children, most of whom are orphans and new refugees from Tibet. The delegation also met with Tibetan monks, nuns, and children who recently escaped Tibet over the perilous Himalayan mountain passes.
Speaker Pelosi has been involved in issues relating to Tibet throughout her congressional career. As a new Member of Congress in 1987, she was in attendance in the U.S. Capitol Building when His Holiness the Dalai Lama first described his 'Middle Way Approach' for autonomy for Tibet. Pelosi has been a leading advocate for human rights in China and Tibet including leading an effort to stop the World Bank from pursuing projects environmentally harmful projects in Tibet. In 2007, Pelosi stood with President George Bush to award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award which may be bestowed by the United States Congress.
In addition to Pelosi, the congressional delegation includes the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Ranking Member James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, Chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee George Miller of California, and Representatives Jim McDermott of Washington, Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, Anna Eshoo of California, Jay Inslee of Washington, Rush Holt of New Jersey and Hilda Solis of California.
Speaker Pelosi delivered the following remarks praising the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and calling for an end to the crackdown by the Chinese government in Tibet:
Transcript of Remarks at Dharamsala Welcome Ceremony
March 21, 2008
'Thank you, Speaker Karma Choepel for your kind introduction and for inviting us to visit your wonderful community. We could never have dreamed of being here at such an important time.
'There is a special relationship between the United States and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is a relationship that began with a gold watch. As a boy, the Dalai Lama enjoyed science and mechanics. Knowing this, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the very young Dalai Lama a watch showing the phases of the moon and the days of the week. His Holiness still uses the watch today and it affirms our special relationship.
'Last October, the President of the United States presented the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness for his 'many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, non-violence, human rights and religious understanding.' In recognizing his courage we also honor the courage of the Tibetan people, both inside and outside Tibet.
'Today, this delegation from the United States Congress is here to shed the bright light of truth on what is happening in Tibet. In sanskrit the word non-violence means 'truth insistence.' Insistence on the truth is what this is all about. We insist that the world know the truth about what is happening in Tibet.
'If freedom loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in Tibet we have lost all moral authority to speak on human rights anywhere in the world. The cause of Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. A challenge we can help meet.
'When His Holiness the Dalai Lama extended an invitation to visit Dharamsala over 20 years ago little did I know I would be here today as Speaker of the House. Little did we know even a few weeks ago that we would be coming here at this critical time. Maybe it is our karma that we are here now to lend support to the Tibetan people. When we return home we will bring your message and try to meet the challenge to our conscience.