From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on the 45th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day

March 10, 2004

San Francisco, CA -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today at a march in San Francisco commemorating the 45th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day:

“Thank you to the Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Tibet Justice Center, Tibetan Association of Northern California, Tibetan Youth Congress, Committee of 100 for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet and the Tibetan Nuns Project for organizing this event to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day.

“Today we honor the many brave Tibetans who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom, and join together to demand that the Chinese government release all prisoners on conscience, including Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and the 11th Panchen Lama.

“When China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1949, Tibet was an independent state. Despite an agreement recognizing Tibet’s autonomy over its internal affairs, the Chinese government consolidated its control and repeatedly violated this treaty. Open resistance to Chinese repression grew.

“Forty-five years ago today, on March 10, 1959, the people of Lhasa assembled together and called for the Chinese to leave Tibet, thus marking the beginning of the Lhasa Uprising. The Chinese crackdown was brutal - an estimated 87,000 Tibetans were killed, arrested, or deported to labor camps.

“In the years since the uprising, more than 1 million Tibetans have been killed, and more than 6,000 monasteries and irreplaceable jewels of Tibetan culture have been destroyed. Today, Tibetans are routinely imprisoned and tortured for non-violently expressing their views. Beatings, prolonged exposure to extreme heat and cold, electroshock, sleep and food deprivation, and forced labor are among the techniques used to torture Tibetan political prisoners.

“Attempts by the Chinese government to drive a wedge between the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have proven futile. Tibetans are as devoted to their traditional beliefs as ever, and the bond between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people is fundamental and unbreakable.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the key to peace and stability in Tibet. Envoys of the Dalai Lama have traveled to China and Tibet twice in the past year to continue discussions with Chinese authorities for a permanent negotiated settlement. It is time for the Chinese government to re-assess its hard-line stance toward Tibet and take a step forward into a modern, open and free society.

“The survival of the Tibetan identity is an issue of urgent U.S. and international concern. If we are not committed to meeting the challenge of Tibet, we cannot be consistent when we talk about human rights in any other place in the world.

“As we honor the brave and heroic Tibetan people, we must heed the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is a constant reminder that the crisis in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. Please be assured I will continue to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to preserve their heritage and regain their freedom.”




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