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- As Delivered – 

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in the House of Representatives in support of a measure he introduced calling on the Chinese government to negotiate with Tibet’s leaders without preconditions and marking the 80th birthday of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama (H.Res.337). The resolution passed the House unanimously.

“I’m proud to have offered this resolution that calls for the Chinese government to sit down with Tibet’s leaders without preconditions, listen to their grievances, and work toward an agreement that guarantees the rights and security of the Tibetan people.

“It also marks, as the Democratic leader pointed out, the 80th birthday of the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. 

“I’ve had the privilege to meet His Holiness, who is truly a remarkable man.  Such a gentle spirit, driven from within by incredible strength and courage.  A person of such humor and kindness, whose life has been marked by struggle and setback.  I first met him here in Washington, many years ago.

“When you meet him, no matter your faith or background, you cannot help but feel the bond of common humanity and be drawn into his cause and the cause of the Tibetan people. 

“Indeed, many in Congress have gotten behind this effort.  Let me again especially thank Leader Pelosi.  There has been no greater champion in Congress for the Tibetans’ struggle for freedom. For years, she has held a light to the challenges of the Tibetan people face in preserving their unique culture, language, and religion.  I’m honored that she is cosponsoring this resolution.

“Let me also thank our Asia Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon, and Co-Chairmen of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Representative Jim McGovern and Representative Joseph Pitts for supporting this measure. And I thank my friend, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, as well.

“Since 1951, the republic—the people of Tibet have lived under the shadow of the People's Republic of China, without guarantees of even the most basic rights, and with no say in deciding Tibet’s future.  

“The Dalai Lama has described the cultural genocide the Tibetan people have endured.  Forced assimilation.  Loss of language and cultural identity. 

“Today, as human rights conditions for the Tibetan people deteriorate—and continue to deteriorate—as more monasteries come under government control, as more people are arrested, the desperation of the Tibetan people grows. Tragically, more than 140 Tibetans have burned themselves alive in protest of growing oppression.

“Yet the Chinese authorities have not changed course. Despite talk of mutual respect and social harmony, the reality in Tibet tells a very, very different story. 

“So today, we look to the example set by the Dalai Lama and call for meaningful change for the Tibetan people.  

“The Dalai Lama’s life has been a ceaseless, peaceful journey toward a better future for his people.  It’s in that spirit that we call on the Chinese government to negotiate without preconditions.

“His Holiness has shown that democratic institutions can thrive alongside spiritual leadership. It’s in that spirit that we urge the Chinese government not to involve itself in the spiritual succession process for the next Dalai Lama, should there be one.

“The Dalai Lama has championed freedom of expression and freedom of conscience to promote mutual understanding and harmony. It’s in this spirit that this resolution calls on China to allow unrestricted access to officials, journalists, and other American citizens.

“And let’s not forget: the United States has an obligation to hold up these freedoms as well.  That’s why this measure also calls on our own government to press the issues of human rights, political rights, and religious rights at the highest levels of the Chinese government, and to call for the immediate release of Tibetan political prisoners.

“Throughout his life, the Dalai Lama has worked for a peaceful path forward for the Tibetan people.  We’re grateful for his example and his wisdom.  And with this resolution, we urge China’s leaders to do the right thing for Tibet.

“I enthusiastically support this resolution. I urge my colleagues to do the same and I reserve the balance of my time.”


Read H.Res.337 here