02.15.18

Leahy, Feinstein, Cruz Introduce Resolution Urging China To Respect Tibetan Human Rights And Religious Freedom

Leahy, Feinstein, Cruz Introduce Resolution Urging China To Respect Tibetan Human Rights And Religious Freedom 

. . . Resolution recognizes “Tibetan Rights Day” on key anniversary 

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 15, 2018) – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),  Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Thursday introduced a resolution commemorating the 59th anniversary of Tibet’s 1959 uprising against Chinese rule – March 10, 2018 – as “Tibetan Rights Day.”  The resolution also addresses one of the most important issues for the future of Tibet: the right of Tibetan Buddhists to determine their own leadership, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, free of outside interference from the Chinese Government. 

“We stand by the Tibetan people, who have long been our unwavering friends,” said Leahy.  “We also stand by the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, not just in Tibet but around the world, who should be able to determine their own religious leadership in accordance with their inalienable right to religious freedom.”

U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives.

The full text of the Senate resolution is available here.

Senator Leahy’s statement in the Congressional Record follows:

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

On The Introduction Of The Resolution On Tibetan Human Rights And Religious Freedom

February 15, 2018

Mr. President, I am pleased to join Senators Feinstein and Cruz in cosponsoring a resolution recognizing the 59th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule – March 10, 2018 – as “Tibetan Rights Day.” 

Fifty-nine years ago, Tibetans took a stand, together, for the freedom of their homeland.  The people of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, fearing for the life of the Dalai Lama, surrounded his residence, organized a guard, and called for the withdrawal of Chinese forces from Tibet and the restoration of Tibet’s freedom.  Chinese statistics estimate 87,000 Tibetans were killed, arrested, or deported to labor camps during the suppression of the 1959 uprising, which also led to the forced exile of the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of other Tibetans.

Today, fifty-nine years later, the Government of the People’s Republic of China remains engaged in the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage, and is engaged in gross violations of human rights in Tibet, including extrajudicial detentions, disappearances, and torture.  At least 152 Tibetans in Tibet are known to have self-immolated in protest in the past decade.  Yet the Tibetan people have not given up their struggle for fundamental human rights and freedoms.  We stand by the Tibetan people, who have long been our unwavering friends.

We also stand by the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, not just in Tibet but around the world, who should be able to determine their own religious leadership in accordance with their inalienable right to religious freedom.  According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Chinese government claims the power to select the next Dalai Lama with the help of a law that grants the government authority over reincarnations.  That is absurd.  The identification and installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community.

We can foster closer, cooperative relations with China, but until China works with Tibetan leaders to pursue a new way forward, their reputation in the community of nations, and their ability to act as a global power, will remain deeply tarnished.  I urge other Senators to join in support of this resolution, and to pass it before the important anniversary commemoration on March 10, 2018.


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