By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, May 4: Top US law makers highlighted the issue of Tibet during the General Speeches Period in the House of Representatives.
Senior Representatives, Jim McGovern (Democrat from Massachusetts) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican from Florida) spoke in the House of Representatives on May 2 to put the spotlight on the deteriorating and grave situation inside Tibet under the Chinese regime.
“To make progress, we need someone in charge, the new trump administration needs to appoint the special coordinator for Tibetan over the little progress as quickly as possible,” Representatives McGovern said concerned by the little progress Tibet Policy Act has made after 15 long years since it was passed by the Congress.
Representative McGovern further stressed that the Congress passed the Tibetan Policy Act in 2012 to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity. The law laid out steps to protect the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of Tibet; and to press for improved respect for human rights of the Tibetan people; a dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government; immediate and unconditional release of Tibetan prisoners of conscience; establishing a U.S. Consular office in Lhasa; and requesting that the 11th Panchen Lama be allowed to pursue his religious studies without Chinese government interference.
“For years China has faced no consequences for its failure to respect the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. This must change,” he said and added, “Time may be running out for the Tibetan people. All those who say they believe in the rights of Tibetans must move beyond words to concrete actions. I urge my colleagues to co-sponsor H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, and to support additional measures to protect all that is unique about Tibet and its people.”
“The rationale for the Bill is simple. The basis of diplomatic law is mutual access and reciprocity. But while the Chinese enjoy broad access to the United States, the same is not true for U.S. diplomats, journalists or tourists going to Tibet, including Tibetan Americans trying to visit their place of origin. This is simply unacceptable. If China wants its citizens and officials to travel freely in the U.S., Americans must be able to travel freely in China, including Tibet,” he said.
Calling for a coordinated international action in support of the Tibetan people, the Representative said, “The State Department should take every opportunity to benefit from the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and decades of reflections. The Secretary of State should highlight the democratic practices of the Tibetan people and meet personally with Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay and the administration should also engage other governments to create a group of friends of Tibet.”
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen expressed her concern on issues in Tibet being pushed to the sidelines. “Its a mistake that could have profound consequences, not only for Tibet but for the entire Asian continent,” she said describing Tibet as the roof of the world and the major source of the Asian rivers.
Representative Ros-Lehtinen further urged the Congress to advocate on behalf of the people of Tibet and join forces to combat the Chinese regime’s increasing aggression.
“As His Holiness has said, in the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher. It is essential, Mr. Speaker, that we in Congress advocate on behalf of the people of Tibet and join forces to combat the Chinese regime’s increasing aggression,” she concluded.