Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the situation in Tibet
Chicago, IL, March 14, 2008– “I am deeply disturbed by reports of a crackdown and arrests ordered by Chinese authorities in the wake of peaceful protests by Tibetan Buddhist monks. I condemn the use of violence to put down peaceful protests, and call on the Chinese government to respect the basic human rights of the people of Tibet, and to account for the whereabouts of detained Buddhist monks.
These events come on the 49th anniversary of the exile of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama. They demonstrate the continuing frustration of the Tibetan people at the way in which Beijing has ruled Tibet. There has been an informal dialogue between Chinese leaders and the Dalai Lama’s representatives over the past six years. It is good that they have been talking, but China has thus far shown no flexibility on the substance of those discussions. Indeed, it has delayed in scheduling the latest round, despite the willingness of the Tibetans to continue dialogue.
If Tibetans are to live in harmony with the rest of China’s people, their religion and culture must be respected and protected. Tibet should enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy. The Dalai Lama should be invited to visit China, as part of a process leading to his return.
This is the year of the Beijing Olympics. It represents an opportunity for China to show the world what it has accomplished in the last several decades. Those accomplishments have been extraordinary and China’s people have a right to be proud of them, but the events in Tibet these last few days unfortunately show a different face of China. Now is the time for Beijing to take steps that would change the image people have of China later this year by changing the reality of how they treat Tibet and Tibetans. Now is the time to respect the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet.”
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