Van Nuys, CA -- Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Comittee, today issued this statement on China's handling of the demonstrations in Tibet:

"I strongly condemn the violence that has rocked Tibet over the past several days, and urge the Chinese government to end its brutal crackdown on dissent. Beijing should immediately enter into direct negotiations with the Dalai Lama to bring peace to Tibet and to preserve the unique religious and cultural heritage of the Tibetan people.

"Over the next few days, it is imperative that the Chinese government exercise restraint as it searches for Tibetans who participated in the protests. Beijing's brutal suppression of the Tibetan demonstrations has already harmed its reputation. But violent actions against Tibetans in the coming days will only further damage China’s international image.

"The frustration and anger underlying the Tibetan protests were entirely avoidable. Beijing should have entered into direct talks with the Dalai Lama years ago to promote cultural and religious autonomy in Tibet and to pave the way for the Dalai Lama’s return. Instead, Beijing continued to govern Tibet with an iron fist, allowing resentment to build among the Tibetan community.

"The Chinese should use this crisis as an opportunity to re-evaluate their ill-advised Tibet policies and enter into a productive dialogue with the Dalai Lama."