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Congressman Jim McGovern: McGovern Calls for House Passage of Bipartisan Resolution to Honor Dalai Lama and Call for Negotiated Settlement in Tibet


Congressman Jim McGovern
Congressman Jim McGovern
Jul 8, 2015│Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat and co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, spoke on the House floor to call for passage of H. Res. 337, a bipartisan resolution calling for meaningful dialogue and a negotiated settlement for the people of Tibet.

Congressman McGovern introduced the bipartisan resolution with Representative Joseph Pitts (PA), his fellow co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA); Representative Eliot L. Engel (NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Representative Matt Salmon (AZ), Chairman of the Asia Pacific Subcommittee.

“We are all here because we care about the fundamental human rights of Tibetans, including the right to worship as they choose and to enjoy and protect their culture,” Congressman McGovern said. “But we may be running out of time to guarantee those rights.

“Since 2009, more than 130 Tibetans inside China have taken the unimaginable step of setting themselves on fire – at least 112 are believed to have died. Some chose self-immolation to protest Chinese government policies, others to call for the return of the Dalai Lama. In response, Chinese authorities have intensified official reprisals,” McGovern added. “Surely the people of Tibet must wonder whether anyone is hearing their desperate cries. With this resolution we are attempting to send a clear message back to Tibet that, yes, we hear you. You are not alone.

“We need to have the guts to take some action. Everyone in the world says how much they admire the Dalai Lama. Every head of State, every international organization – all declare how much they care about Tibet and worry about Tibetan human rights abuses,” McGovern concluded. “But things have only gotten worse. We must all come together now to change the status quo, to change the game the Chinese government has been playing for so many decades. The situation is urgent. It can wait no longer.”

The full text of Congressman McGovern’s floor speech is below. Video of floor speech here.

As Prepared For Delivery:

“I thank the gentleman for yielding me time. And I want to thank Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, Subcommittee Chairman Salmon, and my friend and fellow Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Congressman Pitts, for working in such a bipartisan way to bring this resolution to the House floor during this week when we are all celebrating the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I especially want to thank Democratic Leader Pelosi for her many years of leadership in support of the Tibetan people. She is a true champion in the struggle to protect their basic human rights and autonomy.

“We are all here because we care about the fundamental human rights of Tibetans, including the right to worship as they choose and to enjoy and protect their culture. But we may be running out of time to guarantee those rights. As we celebrate the 80th birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the Chinese government has recently asserted its right to approve his successor. The very continuation of the ancient line of Tibetan spiritual leadership and reincarnation is in question. Next Tuesday, on July 14th, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will hold a hearing on the situation in Tibet with the aim of identifying new, creative ideas to advance the basic human rights of Tibetans and ensure Tibetan autonomy.

“I share the concerns of my colleagues that the situation in Tibet is dire. Since 2009, more than 130 Tibetans inside China have taken the unimaginable step of setting themselves on fire – at least 112 are believed to have died. Some chose self-immolation to protest Chinese government policies, others to call for the return of the Dalai Lama. In response, Chinese authorities have intensified official reprisals. Surely the people of Tibet must wonder whether anyone is hearing their desperate cries. With this resolution we are attempting to send a clear message back to Tibet that, yes, we hear you. You are not alone.

“Regrettably, the human rights abuses in Tibet are neither new, nor unknown. On the contrary, Tibet is a very sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations. U.S. policy is supposed to be guided by the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, which encourages dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama. But Chinese intransigence has closed down dialogue since 2010. China also severely restricts access to Tibet and Tibetan regions, especially for U.S. journalists, officials and citizens, even though, I might add, Chinese citizens and officials enjoy unrestricted access here in the United States.

“In April, the Chinese government issued a new white paper on Tibet, with its own unbelievable version of history and an unprecedented demand that the Dalai Lama publicly state that Tibet has been an integral part of China since antiquity as a pre-condition for improving relations with China.

“We need to be doing something different. We need to have the guts to take some action. Everyone in the world says how much they admire the Dalai Lama. Every head of State, every international organization – all declare how much they care about Tibet and worry about Tibetan human rights abuses. But things have only gotten worse. We must all come together now to change the status quo, to change the game the Chinese government has been playing for so many decades. The situation is urgent. It can wait no longer. And shame on all of us if we stand by, with empty words, and continue to watch the people of Tibet suffer and their culture, religion and way of life be exterminated, day by day, year by year, until nothing is left.

“So, I thank my colleagues for bringing this urgent matter to the attention of the Congress and I urge all my colleagues to support H. Res. 337.”

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