News and Views on Tibet

Statement of Congressman Tom Lantos in Commemoration of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising delivered in San Francisco March 10, 2006

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter

On this solemn day of remembrance and reflection on the 1959 uprising of the Tibetan people against Chinese occupation, we mourn once again the loss of so many Tibetan lives in that heroic resistance. We can find inspiration for current action, however, in the fact that India’s extension of refuge to the Dalai Lama and to many thousands of Tibetans fleeing oppression has provided opportunity for the formation of a democratic Tibetan Government in Exile. Guided by the Dalai Lama and by the example of the Indian people, Tibetans during forty-seven years of exile have developed increasingly strong institutions of executive, legislative, and judicial governance and of nongovernmental civil society.

No amount of continuing repression, torture, and attempts by China to deny freedoms of speech and information to Tibetans inside Tibet has prevented them from seeing the beacons of hope provided by the democratic Tibetan Government in Exile. They have been inspired, too, by the ever-increasing worldwide support for Tibetan human rights and freedom inspired by the Dalai Lama’s wisdom and example. Leading the way, in 1987 His Holiness first publicly presented his Five Point Peace Plan for genuine Tibetan autonomy at a major event of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which I co-chair. Since that time, supported by a democratic process among Tibetans in exile, the Dalai Lama through his representatives has fully clarified to the Chinese Government the principles of his Middle Way toward genuine Tibetan cultural freedom and autonomy, in a peaceful Tibet that participates fully in the wider life of China.

During 2005 the Tibetan Exile Administration launched a broad campaign to help Tibetans and their supporters worldwide become fully aware of the democratically approved Tibetan Middle Way policy and its appropriate nonviolent implementation. This policy in no way hampers our ongoing and highly justified protests of the continuing outrages perpetrated by Chinese authorities in Tibet. These outrages are too numerous to be included in one short speech, running the gamut from the kidnapping and long disappearance of the legitimately chosen young Panchen Lama, and countless other examples of deprivations of genuine religious freedom in Tibet, to the routine torture and long detention under cruel conditions, without even a semblance of fair trial, of Tibetans peacefully attempting to exercise their internationally protected rights of free expression and assembly.

Others today will elaborate on individual cases and the mass human suffering caused daily by the Chinese Government in Tibet, fully confirmed by the new U.S. Department of State 2005 Human Rights Report on Tibet just released on Wednesday, March 8th and by the continuing documentation of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other respected nongovernmental groups. Instead I shall focus today on encouraging the Government of China to recognize that the current leadership and democratically formed Middle Way policy of the Tibetan Government in Exile may represent a last best opportunity for China peacefully and successfully to solve problems in Tibet that in future could otherwise become far more serious in the context of increasing public discontent with government mistreatment and corruption throughout China. Acknowledged episodes of public protest during 2004 in China were nearly 75,000, and these episodes appear to be growing in size and number by leaps and bounds.

I am firmly convinced that a sound agreement by China with the Tibetan people and with the current leadership of the Tibetan Government in Exile can lead not only to genuine Tibetan autonomy but also, assisted by the irreplaceable influence of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, to genuine and legitimate cooperation by the Tibetan people in helping to develop an increasingly open, economically and politically successful China in the 21st century. To help focus the world’s attention on this still-remaining opportunity for Tibet, China, and the entire world, I have introduced with other senior leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives a bill to award the very rare congressional gold medal to Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, in recognition of his many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, nonviolence, human rights and religious understanding. I urge you all to enlist supporters of human rights and freedom for Tibet and for China as a whole, throughout the United States, to ask their Members of Congress to help pass this bill, House Resolution 4562.

Tibetan leaders and their friends everywhere who understand the high value of the Middle Way policy initiated by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and the elected Tibetan Government in Exile are continuing to reach out to China to encourage this precious opportunity. Only China’s most senior leaders can make the wise decision to carry this opportunity forward, building mutual confidence step by step so as finally to fulfill the initiative implied in Deng Xiao Ping’s original 1979 invitation to the Dalai Lama, through his elder brother, to begin a dialogue between them.

Thank you very much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *