Congressman Jim McGovern Asks China to affirm the right of the 14th Dalai Lama to return to his homeland

US Representative Jim McGovern delivered a speech on the Dalai Lama and Tibet during the special order period in the House of Representatives on December 14, 2017 afternoon. Under the subject of “Let His Holiness the Dalai Lama Go Home”, Representative McGovern said:

“Mr. Speaker, this week people all around the world are commemorating Human Rights Day, the annual celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Article 13 of the Declaration affirms that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

“I have that right. As a citizen of the United States, I can leave my country whenever I choose and I have the right to return whenever I like. For me, this right is not theoretical – I exercise it every time I travel abroad and every time I return home.

“But Mr. Speaker, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, born and educated in Tibet, has not seen his homeland since he was forced into exile in 1959.

“The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama when he was only two years old, and he was only six when he began his monastic studies.

“But well before he finished his education, at the young age of 15, he was called upon to assume political leadership after China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950. For the next nine years, he worked to preserve Tibet’s autonomy and Tibet’s culture.

“But after years of growing resentment against restrictions imposed by the Chinese Communists, a full-scale revolt broke out in March 1959, and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee as the uprising was crushed by Chinese troops. On March 31, 1959, he began a permanent exile in India, settling in Dharamsala in northern India.

“Since then, he has not returned to Tibet – or more accurately, he has never been permitted to return. He has spent more than 60 years in exile.

“Today, the Dalai Lama is 82 years old, a man renowned all over the world for his commitment to peace. He has consistently advocated for policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression.

“In 1989 he won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of what was then his nearly 30-year nonviolent campaign to end China’s domination of his homeland.

“In 2007, Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. And at the time, then-President George W. Bush called him “a man of faith and sincerity and peace.”

“I have long believed that the Dalai Lama is part of the solution to resolving Tibetan grievances.

“There was a time, from 1959 until 1979, when the Tibetan goal was independence.

“But since the 1970s, the Dalai Lama has been looking for a way to resolve the situation of the Tibetan people through negotiations. In the late 1980s he proposed the Middle Way Approach as a path toward Tibetan autonomy within China.

“His commitment to non-violence, and his recognition as the spiritual leader of Tibetans worldwide, confers on him an undeniable legitimacy that would be of great benefit were China willing to restart the dialogue that has been suspended since 2010.

“But the Chinese government has not recognized or taken advantage of this opportunity to achieve a peaceful resolution. Instead, Chinese authorities continue to view the Dalai Lama with suspicion, disparage him, and accuse him of fomenting separatism.

“They seem to believe that with his eventual, inevitable death, they will be assured of consolidating their hold on Tibet.

“I would not be so sure. Today, all around the world, we are seeing the consequences of the repression of religious and ethnic minorities.

“For the Chinese, there is still time to recognize that inclusion and respect for the human rights of Tibetans offer the best path to security.

“So today, I call on China to follow a different path. I call on the Chinese authorities to affirm the right of the 14th Dalai Lama to return to his homeland, whether to visit or to stay. I call on them to welcome him home, afford him the respect he deserves as a man of peace, and sit down with him to resolve Tibetan grievances so as to prevent the deepening of tensions and eruption of conflict.

“Were China to take such a step, I believe the international reaction would be very positive. I would be among the first to recognize and congratulate such an important gesture.

“Mr. Speaker, we need to be in the business of preventing and transforming conflicts, instead of being forced to respond to their consequences after the fact.

“So I urge my colleagues to join me in calling on the Chinese authorities to allow the Dalai Lama to return to his homeland. The Chinese Government should allow His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is revered all around the world, the ability to go back to his home. To go back to where he was born. This is the time for bold action and I urge my colleagues to speak out along with me in urging the Chinese Government to do the right thing – now is the time to raise our voices, now before it’s too late.”

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