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US asks China to respect human rights of Tibetans

By Lalit K Jha in Washington D.C
Last updated on: March 10, 2009 12:01 IST
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Observing that the Chinese government has not "won the hearts and minds" of the Tibetan people, United States House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday asked Beijing to come out with a solution that respects the human rights of every Tibetan.

Speaking at a reception to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, she said, "It is long past time for Beijing to make progress on a solution that respects the human rights of every Tibetan".

Hollywood star Richard Gere and Lobsang Nyandak, representative of the Dalai Lama were among other prominent speakers at the Capitol reception.

"It is clear that the Chinese government has not won the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people. Rather, the Tibetan people have accumulated legitimate grievances from decades of repressive policies," she said.

"For the last year, Tibet has been under martial law and the human rights situation continues to worsen. Last week, the US State Department issued its Annual Country Report on Human Rights stating that 'the Chinese government's human rights record in Tibetan areas of China deteriorated severely during the year," Pelosi said.

Pelosi said sadly, there has been no progress in the discussions between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama. People of Tibet, Pelosi said, "have been economically marginalised in their own land, imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views, and barred from practicing their religion without government interference."

Recollecting her India visit last year as part of a Congressional delegation, during which she made a trip to Dharamshala, Pelosi said, "Last year, this visit by coincidence or karma occurred after the protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau and the subsequent crackdown by Chinese authorities."

"When our delegation arrived, the roads were lined with thousands of Tibetan monks, nuns, and children waving American and Tibetan flags. We heard firsthand accounts from former prisoners describing the harsh conditions they endured for only demanding the right to express themselves freely," Pelosi said.

The House of Representative speaker praised India for giving shelter to the people of Tibet, after they were forced to leave their homeland. "The welcoming by India of the Tibetan refugee community is a testament to the close ties between Indian and Tibetan people. It is a friendship rooted in a mutual admiration for the philosophy of non-violence as practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama," Pelosi said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington D.C
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