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Pelosi: 'We are Hearing the Call to the Conscience of the World'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight to urge the passage of her resolution in support of Tibet, H.R. 1077.  Below are the Speaker's remarks, as prepared:

“Thank you Chairman Howard Berman and Ranking Member Ileana Ros Lehtinen for your bipartisan support in bringing this resolution to the floor this evening.   

“This resolution on the situation in Tibet calls on the Chinese government to end the crackdown in Tibet, enter into a substantive dialogue directly with the Dalai Lama, allow independent monitors, journalists and medical personnel into Tibet, and release all Tibetans who were arrested for non-violently expressing their political views. 

“It is my hope that the House of Representatives will send a clear message that we support the fundamental freedoms of the Tibetan people and a peaceful solution to the instability in Tibet. 

“In March, I had the privilege of joining Mr. Markey and Mr. Sensenbrenner on a delegation visit to India to discuss the issues of energy and global warming.

“When we planned our trip, we didn't realize what would be happening in Tibet following the March 10th anniversary.  When we arrived in Dharamsala, the roads were lined with thousands of Tibetan monks, nuns and children. 

“Their bright Buddhist robes made a beautiful maroon and yellow backdrop as they waved American flags and thanked us for supporting their non-violent cause.   

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama told us that he has always seen America as not just a superpower, but the world's champion for liberty, freedom and democracy. 

“The Tibetan people have accumulated legitimate grievances from six decades of repressive Chinese government policies. They have been economically marginalized in their own land, imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views, and barred from practicing their religion independently of government officials. 

“So powerful is the image of the Dalai Lama that Tibetans are imprisoned for even owning pictures of him.

“The more Beijing tightens its grip, the more the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people will slip through its fingers.  It is in this repressive context that the protests began last month. 

“There is a better way.  The Dalai Lama is unequivocal in his position that he does not seek independence for Tibet.  Chinese leaders are missing an historic, and perhaps last, opportunity for engagement. 

“Last year, President Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama for his ‘many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, non-violence, human rights and religious understanding.'

“It is long past time for Beijing to re-asses its failed policy to attack and demonize the Dalai Lama and show the world it can have civilized discussions as a responsible world power. 

“During our visit to Dharamsala, we had the opportunity to hear first hand accounts of beatings, electroshock and other grotesque techniques Chinese authorities use to punish political prisoners.

“Freeing political prisoners in China and Tibet has been a priority for me throughout my congressional career.  The stories about the conditions inside the Chinese labor prisons are very familiar.

“These heroes who are thrown in prison have the courage to speak out for freedom and the determination to withstand years of imprisonment and unspeakable horrors. 

“Last week, I had a meeting with my friend Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese prison camps.  We talked about how one of the worst forms of torture is when prison guards tell the prisoners them that no one knows or cares that they are imprisoned. 

“We call on the Chinese government to release political prisoners including Hu Jia, sentenced last week for speaking out on human rights and the Olympics; Shi Tao, sentenced to 10 years in prison for reporting on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre; Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who exposed the truth about China's one-child policy; the 11th Panchen Lama who was kidnapped as a young child and has not been heard from since; and countless others . . . the list is too long to name . . . . 

“The Olympic Charter states that the Olympic games should promote ‘a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,' along with ‘respect for universal and fundamental ethical principles.' 

“The Chinese government has failed to live up to the commitments it made before being awarded the Olympic games. 

“I believe the I.O.C. made a mistake in awarding the Olympics to China.  I sponsored a resolution at the time expressing that view.

“However, I believe a boycott at this time would unfairly harm our athletes. 

“Instead, I have asked President Bush to keep the option of not attending the Opening Ceremony, on the table, unless progress can be made. 

“For the next four months, the I.O.C. and Chinese officials will parade the Olympic torch through dozens of countries and even through Tibet. 

“The torch will be met by politicians and heads-of-state from all over the world along a ‘journey of harmony.'  Make no mistake: it is the Chinese government that is making the Olympic torch relay a political event. 

“Tomorrow the Olympic torch comes to my district in San Francisco, which is blessed by a large and vibrant Chinese American community.  As San Franciscans, we embrace the diversity of our community and we value the contributions made in every corner of our great city. 

“We also value peaceful free expression, and tomorrow, many will exercise this right by meeting the Olympic torch in protest.

“They will protest the human rights situation in China; they will protest the crackdown and repression in Tibet; and they will protest China's support for the genocidal regime in Sudan and the military junta in Burma. 

“I commend those who participate in these nonviolent and respectful demonstrations for their commitment to meeting the causes that challenge the conscience of the world.

“They are making a significant statement that the Olympic ideals of peace and harmony should apply to all people, including in China, Tibet, Darfur and Burma.     

“Today the Congress is showing that it has not forgotten the people of China and Tibet in their struggle for freedom. 

“I look forward to the overwhelming passage of this resolution and sending a clear message that we are hearing the call to the conscience of the world.”