McGovern Applauds House Passage of Reciprocal Access to Tibet Bill
“With this bill, we are taking an important step forward on behalf of the human rights of Tibetans”Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress, applauded the passage of a bipartisan bill he introduced – H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act – by the United States House of Representatives.
The Congressman’s legislation seeks to hold China accountable for its human rights violations in Tibet. Since 1950, Tibetans have resisted the rule of the People’s Republic of China. The repression of a Tibetan uprising in 1959 provoked the Dalai Lama and 80,000 followers to flee into exile. China has continued to violently oppress the Tibetan people – imposing draconian controls over their lives and imprisoning and torturing hundreds of Tibetan political prisoners and detainees.
“Today is a great day for human rights,” said Congressman McGovern on the House Floor Tuesday night, during passage of the bill. “If China wants its citizens and officials to continue to travel freely in the U.S., then Americans – including Tibetan Americans – must be able to travel freely in China, including Tibet, beginning now.”
One of China’s key oppression mechanisms consists of limiting travel to Tibet in an attempt to cover up and minimize their human rights violations. Despite the fact that Chinese officials, journalists and tourists generally travel freely within the United States, the Chinese government has erected many barriers to Americans who seek to travel to Tibet – undermining the reciprocity and mutual respect that serves as the foundation of international law.
Under the Congressman's bill, Chinese authorities who design and implement these restrictions on travel to Tibetan areas would become ineligible for admission to the United States.
The bill now proceeds to the United States Senate for their consideration.
Video of McGovern’s Remarks (YouTube)
Transcript of McGovern’s Remarks (Medium)
Key Excerpts from McGovern’s Remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, today is a great day for human rights. The House is about to approve our bipartisan bill –The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act — that will impose real consequences for China’s bad behavior in Tibet.”
“America’s foreign policy ought to send the message that we value human rights. That we stand with those working for freedom. That those values compel us to speak out when we see something that’s wrong. And that we will hold accountable those who violate the basic human rights we are all entitled to. And that’s exactly what this bill today is all about.”
“Tibetans are left isolated from the rest of the world. Their well-documented suffering under Chinese rule — arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, extensive government surveillance, restrictions on the use of their language and their religious and cultural practices — all these violations of fundamental human rights are hidden from sight.”
“I know first-hand how important access to Tibet is because I had the opportunity to join Leader Pelosi and several other Members of Congress for a visit there in November of 2015. I saw the tight control the government exercises over virtually all aspects of the daily lives of Tibetans. And I had people thank me for being there, remembering them, and fighting for their rights.”
“So if China wants its citizens and officials to continue to travel freely in the U.S., Americans — including Tibetan Americans — must be able to travel freely in China, including Tibet, beginning now.”
“With this bill we are taking an important step forward on behalf of the human rights of Tibetans, we are reaffirming our support for the leadership of his holiness the Dali Lama, and we are sending a message to the government of China: human rights are not negotiable. Supporting human rights is the moral thing to do. It is the right thing to do. And it is the American thing to do — for Tibetans, in China and everywhere else in the world.”
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