Mr. TOWNS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for the people of Tibet and to thank groups like Students for a Free Tibet for all the work they do to raise awareness on this issue. For too long, the Tibetan people have suffered numerous human rights violations at the hands of the People's Republic of China. In the fight for Tibetan freedom, 35 Tibetans have set fire to themselves since February 2009 to protest China's occupation of their land. At least 23 of them have died. Their sacrifice should not go unnoticed. They have given their lives to show the world the suffering the Tibetan people endure at the hands of Chinese government.
Additionally, there are numerous Tibetans who have been arrested for speaking out against the government and advocating for the freedom of Tibet. These political prisoners need to be set free. Their only crime is standing up for the rights of the Tibetan people. While China continues to enforce policies that encroach on the freedoms of Tibetans, the people continue to conduct peaceful demonstrations. It is our responsibility to support the Tibetan people both politically and financially.
As a body, we should carry on our support for the Tibetan people by continuing to fund areas such as development, refugee programs, and Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. By supporting programs such as these, we encourage Tibetan livelihood and culture. U.S. assistance has supported sustainable development, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation in Tibet since 2000. Let us continue this support to contribute to a better future for Tibet.
We should also continue to support the Dalai Lama's efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution for Tibet with the Chinese government. The Tibetan people are a peaceful people and we should support their belief system in finding a peaceful solution to this problem. Let us lend our support to the people of Tibet so that they can continue their fight for freedom.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the people of Tibet.