EXPRESSING SENSE OF HOUSE REGARDING PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE BY CHINESE GOVERNMENT FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN EFFORTS TO END CHINESE OCCUPATION OF TIBET -- (House of Representatives - February 03, 2004)
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 157) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding several individuals who are being held as prisoners of conscience by the Chinese Government for their involvement in efforts to end the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 157, calling on the government of the People's Republic of China to release all prisoners of conscience, including Phuntsog Nyidron, a Tibetan nun who is currently the longest serving Tibetan political prisoner in China.
We know that the brutal regime in China has detained hundreds of Tibetan nuns, monks, and laypersons for speaking out against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In the last session of Congress, I sponsored a resolution calling on the PRC to release the Panchen Lama, who is held in high esteem in Tibetan culture as the teacher of the Dali Lama. The Panchen Lama was abducted nearly 10 years ago at age 5. Today, his whereabouts remains unknown.
This regime has been and continues to be relentless in squelching the voices of peaceful dissident. However, even in prison, these voices have been heard. In 1993 Phuntsog Nyidron and 13 other nuns sang and recorded songs about the plight of the Tibetan people that were smuggled out of Draphci prison, inspiring those working for peaceful change. Her prison sentence was extended for 8 years because of the recording. In 1998 it was reported that she was badly beaten after trying to protect another prisoner and that she is in poor health.
Phuntsog Nyidron is a peaceful advocate for change who should be released immediately along with the hundreds of other of prisoners of conscience in China. Although we lack specific information on each case, we know that many other Tibetans are mistreated in Chinese prisons as well. Even though China ratified the U.N. Convention against Torture in 1988, it has been reported that more than 70 Tibetans have died as a direct result of torture and inhumane treatment in Chinese prisons.
We must not forget the many other ethnic and religious groups and political dissident persecuted in the PRC today. Serious human rights abuses are carried out against the Falun Gong, Uighur Muslims, Protestants, and Catholics are well documented in State Department Reports on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.
We know that opponents of the regime continue to be unjustly imprisoned and that women continue to be subject to forced abortions. We also know that the government continues to violate international law through forcibly deporting thousands of North Koreans, many of whom are subsequently placed and concentration camps where they face persecution and death.
As both our administration and other world leaders prepare for the annual U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, I along with many of my colleagues, strongly believe that a strong resolution on human rights in China should be introduced and passed. Given continued and systematic human rights abuses carried out by the regime, anything less would be simply inexcusable.
I strongly urge my colleagues to strongly support passage of this resolution. I call upon the regime in Bejing to release Phuntsog Nyidron and the hundreds of others of political prisoners languishing in China's prisons. And I strongly urge our Administration and other governments to work towards the introduction and passage of a human rights resolution in Geneva.
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