I’ve been watching the situation in Tibet unfold in recent days but have not found the time to write about. China has been censoringthe news coming out of Tibet on the protests there and have sent in the military to crackdown. FreeTibet.org has a wealth of photos, news links and videos that have made it through the Great Firewall.
On Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, leading a delegation of members of Congress, met with the Dalai Lama in India to discuss the recent protests in Tibet and lend her support.
The violent “crackdown on protesters in Tibet,” by the Chinese government “is having powerful political reverberations in Washington, where the White House is weighing how far to go in condemning the Chinese government, even as it defends President Bush’s decision to attend the Summer Olympics in Beijing.”
Mr. Bush has long said the United States and China have “a complex relationship,” and that complexity was on full display this week. While his administration has called for an end to the violence, and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, phoned her Chinese counterpart to urge restraint, Mr. Bush himself has remained silent.
In the meantime, the presidential candidates are speaking out, as is the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. On Friday, Ms. Pelosi visited the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at his headquarters in Dharamsala, India — and poked a finger in the eye of Beijing.
Describing the clashes in the past week between Chinese security forces and Tibetan demonstrators as “a challenge to conscience of the world,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, said, “If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.”
If it seemed like a direct challenge to Mr. Bush, he did not take the bait.
The full text of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s remarks are as follows:
Transcript of Remarks at Dharamsala Welcome Ceremony
March 21, 2008
“Thank you, Speaker Karma Choepel for your kind introduction and for inviting us to visit your wonderful community. We could never have dreamed of being here at such an important time.
“There is a special relationship between the United States and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is a relationship that began with a gold watch. As a boy, the Dalai Lama enjoyed science and mechanics. Knowing this, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the very young Dalai Lama a watch showing the phases of the moon and the days of the week. His Holiness still uses the watch today and it affirms our special relationship.
“Last October, the President of the United States presented the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness for his ‘many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, non-violence, human rights and religious understanding.’ In recognizing his courage we also honor the courage of the Tibetan people, both inside and outside Tibet.
“Today, this delegation from the United States Congress is here to shed the bright light of truth on what is happening in Tibet. In sanskrit the word non-violence means ‘truth insistence.’ Insistence on the truth is what this is all about. We insist that the world know the truth about what is happening in Tibet.
“If freedom loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet we have lost all moral authority to speak on human rights anywhere in the world. The cause of Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. A challenge we can help meet.
“When His Holiness the Dalai Lama extended an invitation to visit Dharamsala over 20 years ago little did I know I would be here today as Speaker of the House. Little did we know even a few weeks ago that we would be coming here at this critical time. Maybe it is our karma that we are here now to lend support to the Tibetan people. When we return home we will bring your message and try to meet the challenge to our conscience.
The Independent UK notes in an editorial:
Barely two weeks ago, it would have seemed unthinkable that Tibet would be where it is now on the international agenda. Then, it was just one of many potential flashpoints that might complicate the run-up to the Olympics in Beijing. But the combination of protests to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the Tibet uprising, and the all too predictable Chinese reaction, brought Tibet’s plight back into the news. It should not be allowed to slip back into obscurity. […]
In stating his readiness to go to Beijing, the Dalai Lama has made a canny diplomatic move. Beijing’s leaders can ignore it or denounce it as a stunt. Yet a bold leader would embrace it as a chance to draw a line under the stalemate that has paralysed Tibet for the best part of half a century. And the Dalai Lama and his foreign supporters have already offered two olive branches.
Unlike some younger Tibetan activists, they are not demanding secession. Nor are they threatening to ruin China’s Olympic show. Their ambition is for Tibet to be allowed to be Tibet. There must be long odds against Beijing taking up the Dalai Lama’s challenge, but no other moment may be as propitious as this for breaking the vicious circle of oppression and assimilation.
The International Campaign for Tibet has a page of action alerts. Please take some time to visit the website and speak out. Free Tibet.