Senators Boxer, Brown and Snowe Lead Call on China to Resolve Crisis in Tibet
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, together with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), today led a bipartisan group of 27 Senators in sending a letter calling on Chinese President Hu Jintao to bring about a timely, peaceful resolution to the current crisis in Tibet and to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people.
In the letter, the Senators encourage the Chinese government to increase transparency by removing current restrictions on the press and to disclose accurate information about Tibetan individuals who have been detained, injured, and killed since the crisis began.
Media reports quote the Tibetan government in exile as putting the death toll from the demonstrations at about 140, while China has put the death toll at 22.
The Senators also ask that the government release peaceful protestors who have been detained and meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose "deep bond with the Tibetan people make[s] him key to achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue."
Boxer said, "I am deeply concerned about the crisis and violence in Tibet - it is in the interest of all involved that we move quickly to restore peace in the region. But it is also my sincere hope that China will take this opportunity to listen to the valid, long-standing concerns of the Tibetan people and extend an open hand to the Dalai Lama, whose wisdom and leadership is deeply respected by the Tibetan people and the international community."
Brown said, "China's crackdown on the people of Tibet is inexcusable. Beijing has long sought a place at the table of global leaders. But systematic and violent repression of free speech, political protest and the eradication of ethnic culture, religion, and language are not the acts of a world leader, nor a country we should be striving to open to free trade. President Hu Jintao must take immediate steps to end the violent repression, open up to western media and release all political prisoners."
Snowe said, "The violent crackdown perpetrated against the Tibetan people last month has already shattered the illusion that China's economic development, without political liberalization, is synonymous with modernization. It is in all of humanity's interest to now ensure that, when the world turns its gaze to this summer's games in Beijing, the Olympic flame is not obscured by a curtain of smoke rising from Tibet."
In addition to Boxer, Brown and Snowe, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr.(D-DE), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Max Baucus (D-MT), Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Larry E. Craig (R-ID), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), John E. Sununu (R-NH), Gordon H. Smith (R-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR).
Full text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Hu Jintao
People's Republic of China
Dear President Hu:
We write today to respectfully urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to take all necessary steps to bring about a peaceful resolution to the current crisis in Tibet and to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people.
First and foremost, we ask that the Chinese government remove its restrictions on the media and communications, and allow independent monitors and the foreign press unfettered access to the region. We believe that lack of reliable information is only fueling uncertainty, causing resentment and discord on both sides of the issue. Increased transparency will be an important factor in resolving the conflict and is the best assurance against further escalation of the violence. Such transparency should include disclosing the names and whereabouts of any Tibetans, including Tibetan monks, who were detained in the wake of recent events. It is particularly critical that the world be given an accurate picture of the number of individuals detained, injured, and killed since the crisis began.
We also ask that the government release those detained for peaceful protest and demonstrate respect for the internationally-recognized right to peaceful assembly and expression of political opinion.
Finally, we ask that the government move quickly, and at the highest level, to meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and engage in substantive dialogue to restore stability and bring genuine autonomy to the region. The Dalai Lama's respected stature in the international community and deep bond with the Tibetan people make him key to achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue and to peacefully implementing any agreement that is reached.
The protests seem to reflect long-simmering Tibetan resentment toward Chinese policies and laws that have failed to respect the basic rights of the people of Tibet. They also appear to reflect Tibetans' belief that the six years of dialogue conducted to datewithout the direct participation of the Dalai Lamahas been too slow and unyielding of results. For stability to last, the underlying causes of the public protests must be addressed, and policies that address the interest of both the Tibetan people and the Chinese government must be considered.
In any such dialogue, it is vitally important that the Chinese set forth a timeline and framework for evaluation of substantive progress. An expedient resolution of the Tibet question through official negotiations that include measurable results favors both the Tibetan people and the Chinese government.
Again, we urge you to do everything possible to bring about a peaceful resolution to this crisis. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China would be best served by expeditiously resolving this issue in a manner that reflects international norms and respect for human rights.
We look forward to continued dialogue on this matter and others that are important to the US-China bilateral relationship.
Thank you for your consideration of this most important request.
Olympia J. Snowe
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Charles E. Schumer
Barbara A. Mikulski
Christopher J. Dodd
Russell D. Feingold
James M. Inhofe
Larry E. Craig
Robert C. Byrd
John E. Sununu
Gordon H. Smith