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Pelosi: 'If Freedom-Loving People Do Not Speak Out for Human Rights in China and Tibet, Then We Lose Our Moral Authority'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in strong support of H. Res 226, a resolution recognizing the plight of the Tibetan people on the 50th anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama being forced into exile. The House approved the measure this afternoon by a vote of 422 to 1. Below are the Speaker's remarks:

“It's with great sadness, Mr. Speaker, that I raise in support of this resolution. I so had wished decades ago that we wouldn't be standing here now still pleading the case for the people of Tibet. I thank Rush Holt for giving us this opportunity, again, with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen sponsoring this legislation.

“We've been fighting this fight for a very long time. Little did we think, my colleagues, go back a generation when the Dalai Lama first came to the Congress in 1987 - first came with his proposal for autonomy - would we have ever thought then that over 20 years later we would still be making this case?  Never after Tiananmen Square - that will be 20 years in June - and we talked about human rights in China and Tibet they said peaceful co-existence, peaceful engagement. They said it is going to lead to the improvement in human rights in China and Tibet.

“A generation has gone by. Twenty years later, and what do we have?  A more repressive situation in Tibet. A situation so bad that it moved his Holiness in the statement he released on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his exile to say that life for the Tibetans, on the repression of the Chinese regime, is “hell on earth.” His Holiness used those terms, a man of nonviolence and gentle nature, would be moved to use those words.

“So I thank all who are responsible for bringing this resolution to the floor. Because as we know, this week marks the 50th, five decades of waiting for this peaceful evolution to take place, this peaceful evolution that was going to lead to more democratic freedoms. And this was against a peaceful uprising against the Chinese government and then led to the exiling of his Holiness out of Tibet.

“With this resolution, we remember that day and honor the many brave Tibetans who sacrificed their lives for freedom, thousands of them did. With this resolution we recognize the hospitality of India for receiving the Tibetans into that great nation. His Holiness and the nation of India share a tradition of nonviolence and compassion, and we salute India for extending that to the people of Tibet as they escaped.

“For the last year, Tibet has been under martial law, and the human rights situation has worsened according to the State Department report. There's been no progress in the discussions with the Chinese government. It is long past time, 50 years, for Beijing to respect the human rights of every Tibetan, indeed of every Chinese citizen. The United States Congress continues to be a bedrock of support for the Tibetan people, and we do so in a strong bipartisan way.

“Last year, as Mr. Holt mentioned, we had a congressional delegation that visited India where we were able to meet with his Holiness. This visit, either by coincidence or karma, took place only a matter of weeks after the protest that swept across the Tibetan plateau and the crackdown by the Chinese authorities. So when we were in India seeing all of these people who are escaping from Tibet, and prisoners who had been tortured in prisons in Tibet telling us their stories, there were stories. Their stories were fresh and current and tragic, and we were hopeless and helpless in how we could help them in a very real way.

“What we can do is put the moral authority of the Congress of United States in the form of this resolution, with the broad bipartisan vote down as a marker to say that we understand the situation there. That we encourage it to be different, and as Mr. Rohrabacher said, that we are on the side of the Tibetan people.  But it shouldn't be a question of taking sides. It should be a question of resolution -- resolving a difference.  That's what we hope that the Chinese government will do.
“As we were traveling through the streets of Dharamsala, the roads were lined with people. And they were waving flags, American, Tibetan, Indian flags along the way. And one sign caught my eye. it said; “Thank you for everything that you have done for us so far.”  So far. In any event, more is expected.  More will come.

“I'd like to quote from the statement put out by the State Department last night. In part it says: ‘We urge China to reconsider its policies in Tibet that have created tensions due to the harmful impact to Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods.  We believe that substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives, consistent with the Dalai Lama's commitment to disclaiming any mention of sovereignty or independence for Tibet, can lead to progress in bringing about solutions and help achieve true and lasting stability in Tibet.' I'm very pleased with the statement from the State Department.

“Mr. Speaker, the situation in Tibet challenges the conscience of the world. If freedom-loving people around the world do not speak out for human rights in China and Tibet, then we lose moral authority to talk about it any other place in the world.

“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 and their ongoing struggle. That is why I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and thank my colleagues for giving us this opportunity to do so today.”