House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, are part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation which met today in Dharamsala, India with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
Pelosi’s office said the delegation was welcomed by thousands of Tibetans in a ceremony led by Speaker Karma Choephel of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and then proceeded to an audience the Dalai Lama to discuss issues relating to Tibet and the plight of Tibetan refugees in India. Later, the delegation visited the Tibetan Children’s Village, supported in part with U.S. aid to educate and look 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.
“I am humbled and honored to meet with the Dalai Lama,” Miller said. “It is my hope that our visit today will help draw additional attention and support to the effort by the Tibetan people to live in peace and freedom in their own country. The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown against peaceful protest is abhorrent and must end. The United States, as a leader of free nations, is obligated to support the peaceful efforts of the Tibetans and to condemn China’s repressive measures.”
The Chinese crackdown in Tibet is having repercussions here in the Bay Area. Someone poured flammable liquid on a door at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco early Thursday morning and set it alight, prompting an arson investigation. And San Francisco is bracing for the Olympic torch’s arrival April 9 on its way to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, expecting pro-Tibetan protestors to come out in droves.
Other members of the delegation include House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc.; Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.; Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.; and Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte.
Read Pelosi’s remarks praising the Dalai Lama’s leadership and calling for an end to the crackdown by the Chinese government in Tibet, after the jump…
“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.