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McGovern, Bipartisan Delegation Meet Dalai Lama in Push to Strengthen Human Rights in Tibet

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Washington, May 9, 2017 | comments
DHARAMSALA, INDIA – U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) joined House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and their bipartisan Congressional delegation in meetings this week in India and Nepal with government and religious leaders, including His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Congressman McGovern is a senior House Democrat, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and a leading voice in America calling for new policies to strengthen human rights in Tibet. 

In addition to meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, McGovern, Pelosi, and the delegation met earlier in Nepal with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Pushpa Kama Dahal, Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat, and Parliamentary Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar, as well as President of Central Tibetan Administration Dr. Lobsang Sangay. Nepal has hosted a large number of Tibetan refugees for years. Congressman McGovern released the following statement:

“Now more than ever, America must continue to be a strong leader on the world stage. This week’s meetings have been an important opportunity for our bipartisan delegation to reaffirm that leadership and stand up for the human rights and freedom of all peoples.

“I am especially worried about the situation of the Tibetan people. I am deeply troubled by the reports I receive from inside Tibet of human rights abuses and affronts to basic human dignity -- like the demolition of buildings and forced eviction of religious people from the famous Buddhist institute at Larung Gar, and the severe restrictions on the rights of Tibetans to freely meet, speak, write and worship as they choose. And I am equally concerned about the obstacles Tibetans face when they try to travel within China or to neighboring countries.

“It is long past time for the U.S. to rethink our policy toward Tibet. For years, China has faced no consequences for its failure to respect the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. This must change. 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.

“In my meetings with the Dalai Lama and Nepalese leaders, I made clear that I will continue to push for the United States to hold China accountable for their human rights abuses. We must not ignore their continued assault on the freedom of the Tibetan people. Time may be running out for the people of Tibet. All those who say they believe in the rights of the Tibetans must move beyond words to concrete actions.”


Last week, Congressman McGovern outlined a bold new agenda for strengthening human rights in Tibet:

Policy Changes China Must Enact:
  • Remove the obstacles to freedom of movement for Tibetans within China and abroad. China can’t have it both ways. Either Tibetans are Chinese citizens or they’re not. If they are, they must enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Chinese citizens.
  • Permit His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet for a visit if he so desires. He is a man of peace who will soon turn 82 years old. He should be able to visit his homeland.
  • Demonstrate true respect for the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people. A first step would be to permit an independent international investigation into the July 2015 death in custody of revered lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. 
Policy Changes the United States Must Enact:
  • Appoint the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues as quickly as possible. To make progress, we need someone in charge.
  • Insist that China restart the dialogue to lead to a negotiated agreement on Tibet.
  • Develop a list of Chinese officials subject to sanction under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. No one responsible for torture and extrajudicial killings, or for significant corruption, should benefit from coming to our country and doing business here.
  • Publicly engage the Dalai Lama and the democratically-elected leader of the Tibetan people. 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 the Sikyong, Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
  • Engage other governments to create a Group of Friends of Tibet. It’s time to pursue a coordinated international action in support of the Tibetan people.
Joining Congressman McGovern and Leader Pelosi on the delegation are:
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Foreign Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee
  • Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee; Energy and Commerce Committee
  • Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Appropriations Committee
  • Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Ways and Means Committee; Small Business Committee
  • Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Financial Services Committee
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Vice Ranking Member, Budget Committee; Judiciary Committee

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