House locals speak out on pro-Tibet resolution

The House yesterday spent an hour debating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s H.Res.1077, “calling on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to end its crackdown in Tibet and enter into a substantive dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to find a negotiated solution that respects the distinctive language, culture, religious identity, and fundamental freedoms of all Tibetans, and for other purposes.” The vote, however, was postponed.

UPDATE @ 12:27 P.M. WEDNESDAY: The House voted on the bill today, passing it 413-1 with Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the lone holdout; he never votes for any bill not expressly authorized by the Constitution.

Here’s Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, speaking Tuesday about the nonbinding resolution:

Read comments from Pelosi and Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, after the jump…

From Miller, in a statement:

miller.jpg“As the Chinese government was repressing peaceful Tibetan protests last month, I visited Dharamshala, India – the recognized home of Tibetans in exile – with Speaker Pelosi and several of my colleagues.

“I had the honor and privilege to meet His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and I was moved by the infinite patience and courage he exudes in the face of overwhelming odds. I was touched by the large population of Tibetans in exile who worry about family members they have left behind. These are people who left their homeland due to repression of religion and language by the Chinese government and the constant violations of basic human rights and dignity in their own land.

“The Speaker, along with everyone else on our trip, was incensed at the atrocities conducted by China. Our first order of business upon returning to the United States was to draft this important resolution before the House today.

“Through this resolution, we call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to end its crackdown on nonviolent Tibetan protestors and its continuing cultural, religious, economic, and linguistic repression inside Tibet and to begin a dialogue directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

“The freedom of press is something we take for granted in the United States but Tibetans unfortunately do not enjoy this privilege, as all press inside Tibet, and all of China in fact, is closely monitored and controlled by the state. This resolution calls on the Chinese Government to allow independent international monitors and journalists, free and unfettered access to Tibet.

“It is clear by the conviction and sentencing of human rights activist Hu Jia, who has been an outspoken critic of the human rights record of the Chinese government and called on the international community to hold Beijing responsible for the promises it made when bidding to host the Olympic games, that China has no intention of unilaterally changing it’s human rights record. The government of China has been and continues to be an abuser of basic human rights despite the State Department decision to not include China in a list of countries that most systemically violate human rights. This resolution asks the United States Department of State to publicly issue a statement reconsidering its decision.

“The cause of the Tibetan people is a desire for freedom of religion, freedom to speak their own language, and to express their unique identity. It is a cause every American can relate to. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this resolution – to vote in support of Tibet.”

From Pelosi, on the House floor:

pelosi12-14-06.jpg“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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Progressive Democrat

    The US government and these hypocritical Congressional representatives with its torture of Iraqis in prisons in their own country (Ghraib) and in secret prisons around the world, with it destruction of another country’s infrastructure and economic system, with its false imprisonments and detainees, plus the largest prison population of any country in the world including China which has 3 times the number of citizens as the US, should first deal with its own human rights violations. Our people are dying, from lack of healthcare, no medical insurance, bullets and violence in the streets, and depression due to job loss. But the media hasn’t worked up anyone so people aren’t protesting in the streets–not yet. When people do, there’s always the Patriot Act to control and monitor US dissent and to eavesdrop and spy on all Americans.

  • li pan

    The H.Res.1077 can be modified by replacing the chinese government with US government and tibet people with american indian native to produce a pro-american india native resolution. The pro-american india native resolution should add racial termination of native people.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama have no right to bring tibet to middle age and practice slavary in the name of religious identity.