Pelosi Remarks at ‘Change Not Chains’ Event to Honor Liu Xiaobo

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Members of Congress and human rights advocates to honor the memory of late Nobel laureate and Chinese prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much.  I am honored to be with you.  Thank you so much.  So many friends of freedom, Change Not Chains around the world.

I am especially glad to be here with [former] Congressman Frank Wolf.  We were colleagues to each other for many years in the Congress and continue to be colleagues in this fight.  Those who suffer from human rights violations, especially in regard to religious freedom, have no better friend in the Congress or in the country than Congressman Frank Wolf.  He has taken risks, he has spoken truth to power whether Democratic or Republican, in the U.S. government and it is an honor, Frank Wolf, to be with you.  Let us express our appreciation again to Frank Wolf.


I am happy to be here with Abby Berg and Rebiya Kadeer and Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, I don’t know if they are here yet.  Also Matteo [Mecacci] who has the sign of Choekyi Nyima [11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima] which is another concern that we have with the Chinese kidnapping.

Okay, so this week is the time for grief, as we mark the one year of the passing of a great moral voice, Liu Xiaobo.  His death was a tragedy and an affront to the basic ideas of justice and human decency.  But this week must also be a time for action as we pledge to carry forward Liu Xiaobo’s fight for a democratic future.

It was my great honor to attend the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo as part of the official delegation of behalf of Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.  [Congressman] Chris Smith was on that trip.  Were you there, Frank?  Chris Smith and I represented Democrat and Republican support for Liu Xiaobo at that ceremony.  You probably remember it because the Chinese would not allow Liu Xiaobo to accept the award so it was displayed on an empty chair.  A vision that went around the world and spoke volumes of the violence.

I was so thrilled that Liu Xia was allowed to leave China and live her life as she chooses after eight unjust years of house arrest.  Today, so many journalists and activists, those practicing their religion remain in jail simply for aspiring to a more hopeful, free future.  They’re imprisoned for what they believe.  Meanwhile millions of Uyghurs and Tibetans are forced to face unabated abuse and oppression.

America has a moral duty to speak out in defense of America’s basic freedoms, as I said earlier, if we do not speak out for human rights in China, we have lost all moral authority to speak out of human rights violations anywhere in the world.  A commercial interest is not a license for them to abuse human rights.

Today, and all days, we must stand with prisoners of conscience in China and Tibet.  I just want to make this point.  Over the years it has been our point of visiting with prisoners of conscience, when we’ve had a chance – whether they’ve been freed, whether it’s Harry Wu, whether it’s – so many that we have heard from.  That the most excruciating form of torture that the oppressors exert is to tell them that nobody remembers them, no one knows they’re in prison or why they’re in prison.  Of course, that is not true.

So Frank [Wolf] and Chris Smith and I and others, have over the years made the practice of reading names on the Floor of the House.  All of you have done so much to keep the names of those, not just Liu Xiaobo who is famous, but all the others, in the forefront.

I recently gave a list of concerns to the Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Congress a few weeks ago when he was here.  So, we want them to know and we are speaking out today for those prisoners of conscience.

We know you’re there.  We salute your courage.  We pray for your safety.  And we hope that we can shorten the distance of time between when we are speaking here and when you are free.

And with that, I am very pleased to yield, honored to have the privilege to yield to the very distinguished champion, as I said earlier, for human and religious rights around the world.  He spoke truth to power, who had the courage to speak it in China as well as the United States and around the world.  And he knows of what he speaks because he’s visited.  He’s visited people in prison, in prison labor situations in China.  He’s visited the Sudan.  He’s visited these places in the world where the respect for the dignity and worth of every  person was not fully recognized.

Frank Wolf recognizes the spark of divinity in every person and the responsibility that carries in each of us to be respectful of all who are oppressed, exploited by these regimes who are received with great honor and dignity by governments, but we want them to know we are not forgetting the oppression that they are putting forth and we urge them to stop.

With that, let’s give a wonderful welcome to Congressman Frank Wolf and salute him for his service and leadership.

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